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The Diaries of 
Victor Klemperer 

1945-59 

The Lesser Evil 

‘Klemperer’s diary deserves to rank alongside that of Anne Frank’ 

Sunday Times 



'What continues to make his diary compulsive reading is the insight it offers 
into the reasons why a man who was otherwise so perceptive and principled 
falls in with one of the most venal regimes imposed on Eastern Europe by the 
victorious Soviet Union . . . Klemperer's diary also offers a superb window on 
life in Soviet-occupied Germany in 1945-9 and the early years of the German 
Democratic Republic' David Cesarani, Literary Review 

'Klemperer's acute eye for the corruption of his contemporaries and his sharp 
ear for the corruption of language make these diaries an inexhaustible mine 
of information and insight for anybody interested in the German catastrophe 
... In the hands of a master, the ephemeral is perennial' 

Daniel Johnson, Daily Telegraph 

'The diary juxtaposes the profound and the mundane, rather like life itself. 
That is what makes it such a vivid and powerful account of a remarkable life' 

Scotland on Sunday 

'Deeply engrossing reading ... he has the supreme gifts of honesty and 
scepticism ... He doesn't exaggerate, he doesn't fantasise - and that quality 
of dogged sobriety in the face of societies run on lies and ideological insanities 
makes him one of the supreme chroniclers of the 20th century' Spectator 

'No other testimony remotely as truthful exists of the locked-in half of 
Germany. The voice of Victor Klemperer is simply indispensable' 

Evening Standard 

'Puts tears and blood into a political era that is otherwise difficult to dramatise 
and so to imagine' Michael Pye, Scotsman 

'They enhance Victor Klemperer's rare standing as a truth-teller' Irish Times 

'The third and final volume of the diaries of this Jew from Dresden which 
have been hailed as one of the most important chronicles of the 20th century' 

History Today 

'The triumph of these diaries - now, with the third volume, complete - is 
precisely this: not for one moment does Klemperer lose his essential humanity. 
The diaries testify to the integrity of private space and truth to self . . . 
Klemperer's veneration of and sensitivity to languages is his core ethic . . . 
This is the epic of a self-confessedly commonplace mortal with extraordinary 
qualities of intellect, wit, and self-knowledge - recording his insights with 
unswerving fidelity to the truth' Stevie Davies, Guardian 


Martin Chalmers' translation of the 1933-1945 Klemperer Diaries has been 
widely acclaimed. His other translations include works by H. M. Enzensberger, 
Elfriede Jelinek, Erich Fried and Bertolt Brecht. 



Victor Klemperer in Berlin , 1946. Photo: Abraham Pisarek 



THE 

LESSER EVIL 


The Diaries of 
VICTOR KLEMPERER 
1945-1959 


Abridged and translated 
from the German edition by 
MARTIN CHALMERS 



Phoenix 


A PHOENIX PAPERBACK 


First published in Great Britain in 2003 
by Weidenfeld & Nicolson 
This paperback edition published in 2004 
by Phoenix, 

an imprint of Orion Books Ltd, 

Orion House, 5 Upper St Martin’s Lane, 

London WC2H 9EA 

An Hachette UK company 

Originally published as So sitze ich denn 
zwischen alien Stuhlen. Tagebucher 1945-1959 

Copyright © 1999 Aufbau-Verlag Gmbh, Berlin 
Translation copyright © 2003 Martin Chalmers 
Introduction copyright © 2003 Martin Chalmers 

The right of Martin Chalmers to be identified as the author 
of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the 
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be 
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in 
any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, 
photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior 
permission of the copyright owner. 

A CIP catalogue record for this book 
is available from the British Library. 

ISBN 978-0-7538-1794-0 

Printed and bound in Great Britain by 
Clays Ltd, St Ives pic 


CONTENTS 


Map 

vi 

Introduction 

vii 

1945 

1 

1946 

87 

1947 

169 

1948 

237 

1949 

277 

1950 

309 

1951 

341 

1952 

375 

1953 

407 

1954 

431 

1955 

445 

1956 

461 

1957 

483 

1958 

505 

1959 

527 

Abbreviations 

539 

Notes 

541 

Chronology 

621 

Index 

625 



INTRODUCTION 


But Job answered and said, 'Hear diligently my speech and let this 
be your consolations. Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I 
have spoken, mock on/ BOOK OF JOB, 21: 1-3 

Now here comes the next new age. 

ERICH KASTNER, 15 MAY 1945 1 


In the concluding paragraph of To the Bitter End, his diaries of the years 1942- 
45, Victor Klemperer writes of the fairy-tale turnabout in his and his wife's 
circumstances. 2 It is a phrase varied and repeated in subsequent weeks ('a fairy- 
tale world'). The war is over, Hitler is dead and Victor and Eva Klemperer have 
survived, their house in Dolzschen, outside Dresden, has been returned to them 
and the overgrown garden is full of ripe fruit. Even if otherwise there is little 
food, they are constantly afflicted by illnesses and ailments and the future is 
quite uncertain, they have come home. The formerly persecuted Jew is now 
besieged by neighbours and friends, acquaintances and strangers all wanting, 
justifiably or not, attestations confirming their innocence during the Third 
Reich. Victor Klemperer is in part repelled by the lack of dignity and mendacity 
of some of these requests. At the same time he's flattered, he's somebody again - 
'patriarch of Dolzschen' as he, not quite ironically, puts it - he has a provisional 
authority while he waits for clarification of his own position, of the future of 
the universities, of the Soviet Zone of Occupation - of Germany. 

Even when, on 11 July 1945, he writes: 'Yesterday the definitive awakening 
from the all-too-beautiful fairy tale', his spirits are only temporarily dampened. 
(At one of the first cultural events organised in the ruined city, a performance 
of Lessing's play Nathan the Wise, he encounters colleagues from the Technical 
High School who behave as if nothing has happened since they last spoke ten 
years previously, when Klemperer lost his professorship because he was Jewish.) 
Summing up at the end of the year he writes: 'Still: this year! After all probably 
the most fairy-tale-like of my life.' If anything he is more determined than ever 
to catch up on the life and career of which he had been robbed by the twelve 
years of Hitler's dictatorship - and before that, when he remembers his dis- 
appointments in not being appointed to a chair at a 'proper' university before 
1933. He is 'despite nausea and shaky ground under my feet . . . brimful of plans 
and a desire to work' and, he continues, 'No 20-year-old can be half as hungry 


The Lesser Evil 


viii 


for life' (23 June 1945). Victor Klemperer is 63 when the war ends. He is an old 
man in a hurry. 

To outward appearances his remaining years are a success. His subsequent 
ascent has even been described as 'comet-like': 3 restoration of his Romance 
Languages and Literatures chair at Dresden Technical High School (although he 
never teaches there again), Director of Adult Education in Dresden, an office- 
holder, committee member and much-in-demand lecturer for the Kulturbund 4 
and other organisations in the Soviet Zone and then East Germany, a pro- 
fessorship at the University of Greifswald, which he soon gives up for more 
prestigious chairs at Halle and Berlin; LTI, his study of Nazi language, is 
acclaimed and reprinted several times, older books are revised and republished; 
he produces a stream of academic papers and reviews and articles for the press; 
he is elected to the Volkskammer, the representative chamber of the young 
German Democratic Republic, and to the Academy of Sciences; he receives 
many of the awards the new state has to offer, including the National Prize - 
Third Class, but that was fairly usual for academics in the humanities - and the 
Fatherland Order of Merit in Silver; he is honoured with a substantial Festschrift 
on his 75th birthday. His wife Eva, who has stood by him so loyally during the 
Nazi years, dies in 1951, but within a year he marries Hadwig Kirchner, one of 
his students, whom he loves deeply, and is loved in return. In GDR terms he 
becomes a wealthy man, can afford a 'bourgeois' lifestyle, has a car, a chauffeur, 
a housekeeper; he travels, usually with his young wife, to Austria, to Poland, 
Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, France, China, goes on a Black Sea cruise and to West 
Germany a number of times. 

Yet, for Victor Klemperer, these achievements increasingly ring hollow. The 
life that the 1945-59 diaries reveal is one more of tragi-comedy than of triumph. 
Nevertheless, the first years after the war are still dominated by elation at a 
reversal of fortune experienced as little short of miraculous. Recording a trip to 
Falkenstein and Pirna in southern Saxony, accompanied by his wife Eva, to give 
lectures and visit friends, he observes: 'With my great success and the completely 
transformed situation I felt moments of the purest happiness. E. felt the same.' 
And he quotes her as saying: 'On Sunday morning at the Schemers I lay awake 
in bed and was happy.' 

In counterpoint to that profound feeling of satisfaction, the phrases, the 
leitmotifs, which will recur in the diaries as a whole are also present. Klemperer 
repeatedly writes that he finds himself 'falling between stools' - a term which 
had already often been used in the diaries from 19 19-32. 5 He also frequently 
describes himself as having chosen the lesser, the least evil: in deciding to join 
the Communist Party, in preferring East to West Germany, in putting up with the 
restrictions of cultural policy in the East and with its economic shortcomings. It 
is a phrase whose implicit tone shifts from an expression of necessity, to 
defiance, resignation, and barely disguised desperation. 

Victor and Eva Klemperer joined the KPD, the German Communist Party, 
one of the parties then licensed in the Soviet Zone, in November 1945. At first 
sight the decision seems surprising. 6 In earlier life he had not been left-wing, 
being, rather, fairly consistently liberal and nationalist in his views, and often 


Introduction 


ix 


fiercely critical of more radical friends. Furthermore, during and after the return 
to Dresden the totalitarian manifestations of Soviet occupation had given rise 
to unpleasant associations. (A large picture of Stalin in the city centre reminds 
him of the Nazi leader Hermann Goering - 5 October 1945.) Not only that, 
within a few weeks of returning home he is beginning to make notes on the 
language of Communism under the heading LQI (Lingua quarti imperii - 
language of the Fourth Reich), just as he previously kept notes on Nazi language, 
which he called LTI (Lingua tertii imperii - Language of the Third Reich), paying 
attention to continuities and shared features. 

So why did he (and Eva) join the Communist Party? On 26 July he had 
argued: 

I do not want to make a decision according to my - vacillating - emotions, 
not out of pure idealism, but coolly and calculatedly in accordance with what 
is best for my situation, my freedom, the work I still have to do, and yet nevertheless 
serving my ideal task, back the right horse. Which is the right horse? [. . .] Russia? 
USA? Democracy? Communism? [...] Unpolitical? Politically committed? 
Question upon question. 

This sounds as if a degree of opportunism was involved. But, then, what 
apparently purely political decision in Germany in the early postwar months 
and years might not seem in part and in retrospect opportunist? Every such 
decision was simultaneously about how and where best to obtain food, to get 
or keep a roof over one's head, to find some way of earning a living. In a letter 
accompanying his application for KPD membership, included in the entry of 
23 November 1945, Klemperer asserts: 'I believe that we can only get out of the 
present calamity and prevent its return through a most resolute left-wing 
movement.' He was by no means trying to ingratiate himself with the Com- 
munists. This, too, is a theme varied and repeated during preceding months. 
On 8 August he writes: T want to be on the furthest left wing of the KPD, I 
want to be for Russia.' Typically such statements are accompanied by doubts 
and criticisms of the effects of Soviet or Communist policies, sometimes even 
in the same paragraph, even the same sentence. 

Victor Klemperer was never very convincing as a Marxist(-Leninist). When 
he deploys the names of Lenin and Stalin and refers to their lives or works it is 
usually to defend a traditional humanist academic or scholarly agenda (although 
he does, for example, record an adulatory speech to students on Stalin, when 
the latter dies.) However, because of what he had gone through under Nazism 
and because of his determination to have those professors, not least certain of 
his former colleagues, who had collaborated with or accommodated to Nazism, 
removed from their posts, 7 Klemperer had become something of a Bolshevik. 
Or, perhaps more accurately and given his lifelong work on the writers of the 
French Enlightenment, a belated Jacobin. 8 

Seen in this light, it was essentially the absence of a truly radical democratic 
party that led him to make a commitment to Communism. It should also be 
borne in mind that in November 1945, not least for someone as politically 


X 


The Lesser Evil 


inexperienced as Klemperer, it was not evident that the Soviet Zone would end 
up as an oppressive Stalinist or post-Stalinist state sealed off from the West by 
a fortified internal German frontier. (Klemperer died before the erection of the 
Berlin Wall in August 1961.) It was not even evident that divisions between the 
powers which defeated Germany would produce two German states. Victor 
Klemperer wanted the most decisive break possible with the Nazi past and with 
those German traditions of thought which, as he saw it, had contributed to the 
acceptability and popularity of National Socialism, particularly in the 'Bildungs- 
biirgertum', the educated middle class to which he had belonged. 9 He was 
hardly the only intellectual at the time to believe in the possibility of a model 
Socialist alternative to Fascism and capitalism. A considerable number of dis- 
tinguished German-speaking scholars and artists returned from exile to the 
Russian-occupied zone or went there from the western zones - even as many 
'bourgeois' academics at educational institutions in the East were decamping to 
the West. It was a project which seemed to hold out some prospect of a 
realisation of those rational, Enlightenment ideals which Klemperer so much 
admired. 

Many of these writers and scholars were to be disappointed and disillusioned 
by the shifting restrictions, the censorship, repression and party dictatorship 
of what, on 7 October 1949, became the German Democratic Republic. Some 
died before their growing ambivalence became public (the poet and playwright 
Bertolt Brecht), others suffered harassment and house arrest before being 
allowed to leave for the West (the poet Peter Huchel), some (the philosopher 
Ernst Bloch, the critic and literary scholar Hans Mayer) succeeded in 
maintaining their stature as intellectuals in the West - partly thanks to the 
revival of Marxist thought associated with the rise of the New Left. Still 
others (like Victor Klemperer's friend Alfred Kantorowicz, who fled to West 
Germany to avoid arrest) were marginal figures there, unable to make a new 
career for themselves. 

Victor Klemperer's own disenchantment grew more acute in the course of the 
1950s, but he was too old to think of making a new start, was in any case too 
suspicious of capitalist, Americanised West Germany with its ex-Nazi civil 
servants and politicians. If the Nazis had failed to force Eva and himself out of 
Germany and permanently dislodge them from the house they had built after 
Hitler came to power, then there was little likelihood that anyone else would. 
He had, in any case, become a big fish, albeit in a small pond, and it was hardly 
to be expected that he would give up the privileges to which he felt entitled 
after the persecution and privations suffered under the Third Reich. The diaries, 
however, reveal a keen awareness of the conditions of his position. As early as 
28 August 1947 Klemperer is reminding himself: 

Always remember: 1) You are a war profiteer, you owe your successes solely to 
the emptiness of the Eastern Zone. 2) These are provisional successes, at no 
moment are you certain, today powerful, tomorrow impotent. 3) Vanitas 
vanitatum - one foot in the grave, when will the other follow, and what will 
survive, and what is the value of this survival? 


Introduction 


xi 


In his resume of the year 1949, Klemperer concludes: 'And while I should be 
indifferent to everything, I was nevertheless tormented by the defeats of the 
past year: the failure to get the National Prize, to get the seat in the Academy, 
to get the Berlin chair.' Professional setbacks come on top of the ambivalence - 
schizophrenia - of his judgement of politics, and if he was in fact to achieve 
the goals mentioned in the course of the next couple of years, it hardly felt like 
smooth progress. And in the entry for 16 December 1949, his dissatisfactions 
with politics merge with a feeling of isolation, even from his wife: 

We are so utterly isolated, the people of our world are dead. [. . .] And sometimes 
the most tormenting thought of all: What am I still to E., and how far does 
she share my thoughts? I am often so tired now, physically and mentally. I 
have a horror of the nothingness and nevertheless wish everything were over. 

I try to persuade myself to believe in the Soviet cause, and in my heart of 
hearts I don't believe in anything and everything appears to me equally trivial 
and equally false. The ghastly similarity to Nazi methods in propaganda [. . .], 
in the hullabaloo around Stalin's birthday cannot be denied. 

Klemperer did indeed become increasingly estranged from his wife Eva. She 
was disheartened by the loss of her pictures and scores (in her youth she had 
ambitions both as painter and as musician), by the unpleasantness of the 
months in Griefswald, and was more and more tied to the house in Dolzschen 
by ill health. Victor meanwhile was rushing from one meeting to the next, 
commuting between Berlin, Halle and Dresden. His ambitions, his obsessive 
drive for recognition, could no longer be shared, when previously they had 
shared everything good and often bad. There is a telling, almost brusque, aside 
in an enthusiastic description of a May Day Rally in Halle (7 May 1949): 'Eva at 
the back in the disabled van - she was unable to see and hear anything.' As 
Victor Klemperer's absences became more frequent, owing to his academic and 
political commitments, so he becomes more easily irritated by conditions at 
home, even as he continues to be concerned about Eva: 

Ever more depressing conditions. I feel I am an intruder here. Eva lives her 
little woman life here [. . .] with Frau Richter [the housekeeper], the [builders], 
the tomcat, the flowers. I introduce disturbance, ill humour. I arrive exhausted, 
dejected, my desk is in a muddle ('tidied up') [...]. Then immediately there's 
an exchange of words, a sharp expression, offence taken, E.'s breathlessness 
accusing me. [. . .] I feel so bitter. And she feels like a prisoner up here. 

When Eva Klemperer died of a heart attack (8 July 1951) her husband inev- 
itably felt guilty. Yet within a year he and his 25-year-old student Hadwig 
Kirchner had fallen in love with one another, courted (in Klemperer's descrip- 
tion, the affair is at once touching and at times farcical) and married (23 May 
1952). He was very happy with Hadwig, yet this happiness was overshadowed 
both by what he felt was his 'betrayal' of Eva and because he fears he is robbing 
Hadwig of the rights of youth and of the chance to start a family. 


The Lesser Evil 


xii 


Matters are made more complicated still by the fact that Hadwig is a devout, 
if left-wing Catholic with a much greater sense of distance from the East German 
state. Klemperer finds himself increasingly unable to answer her criticisms of 
Communism in action, and so domestic contentment is clouded not only by 
thoughts of his first wife but by an ever stronger, ultimately unambiguous 
revulsion towards the GDR regime. The claim of the lesser evil drops away - 
though Victor and Hadwig Klemperer both continue to dismiss West Germany 
as a possible alternative. 

On 24 May 1950 he could still write: 'Perhaps more bitter than this defeat 
[failure to be awarded a Communist youth movement honour!] is my great 
divergence from the SED on all intellectual matters. But I cannot just move 
over to the West - it is even more repugnant to me. In the SED it is only 
scholarship, only the temporary hysteria, the 150%ers, that I loathe, but over 
there it is everything/ 

By 8 March 1954 he concludes in resignation, 'in the very final analysis people 
like us are liberal'. 10 And by 19 January 1957, commenting on the contradiction 
between constitutional form and hard political reality in the GDR, he asks (and 
the questions are in part a mark of his political naivety): 

if 'the people' themselves really are the rulers, if the Volkskammer really is the 
supreme authority - what is the Party, what the Central Committee, what the 
Politburo, what Staliniculus Ulbricht?? And why the game with parties, when 
only one rules? I do not understand it, I am an old liberal, and my temporarily 
suppressed liberalism is showing ever more strongly through the layer of red 
make-up. 

Visiting one of the remaining independent publishers, Klemperer notes that 
the former is afraid of an open door, in case their conversation may be overheard. 
'We sat there over coffee, cakes, whipped cream, and the atmosphere was as if 
we were threatened by the Gestapo again' (2 August 1958). The final collapse 
of any kind of belief in Communism comes during a tour of China: 

It became clear to me, that Communism is equally suited to pulling primitive 
peoples out of the primeval mud and pushing civilised peoples back into the 
primeval mud. In the second case it sets to work more mendaciously and is 
not only stultifying, but debasing as well, in that in every way it trains people 
to be hypocrites. Thanks to my China trip and fully acknowledging the 
prodigious achievements here I have finally become an anti-Communist. This 
cannot have been Marx's ideal condition. 

Klemperer's final years are clouded, too, by his failure to produce (after LTI 
in 1947) any major new book and by criticisms, often political in nature, of 
new editions of his older work and of shorter pieces he publishes. He had always 
felt looked down upon by his academic colleagues, the serious philologists of 
the discipline. In the GDR this sense of inferiority was compounded by his 
rivalry with the younger, brilliant but unstable scholar Werner Krauss. In his 


Introduction 


xiii 


own field, as in politics, Klemperer began to be overcome by a mood of res- 
ignation. On seeing the register of his publications, which is to open his 
Festschrift, he comments: 'It begins with Aus fremden Zungen [From Foreign 
Tongues], 1906, 5 pfennigs a line. I began as a journalist, have been one all my 
life and have remained between stools' (17 October 1956). 11 And then even 
more bleakly, after the beginning of his final illness: T have lost all belief that I 
might have an effect. All belief in right or left. I live and die as a lonely literary 
journalist' (29 April 1959). 

Perhaps what gave him the greatest pleasure, professionally, in his last years 
was his role as a teacher, even if he complained that it took up too much time, 
did not contribute to his writing, that he was merely tolerated as a harmless old 
man, even a clown. Nevertheless on 20 February 1952, still gripped by that state 
of schizophrenia which is so characteristic of his postwar diaries, he writes: 'All 
my lectures and seminars, in Berlin as in Halle, are a desperate struggle for the 
freedom of the intellect.' And he must have been a brilliant teacher, plain- 
speaking, knowledgeable, for all his self-doubt a breath of fresh air from another 
world. In a travel book on France published in East Germany in 1975, the writer 
Rolf Schneider devoted a chapter to the influence of Victor Klemperer, from 
which I shall quote: 

If I reflect on where my particular curiosity about France comes from, I 
immediately find myself thinking about my encounter with a man called 
Victor Klemperer. 

Is he still remembered? I don't know. I only know that I owe him a great 
deal, that he shaped me in ways which are curious and difficult to explain. 
They had to do with France, but not only with France. [. . .] 

I myself was a student of German [in Halle], of that discipline, therefore, 
that had produced so many crypto-Fascists and so many bad writers. There 
came the day, on which I longed for more nourishing academic bread, I went, 
with many others, who were also not students of Romance languages, to that 
ground floor lecture theatre, where Professor Victor Klemperer lectured every 
week on the history of French literature. 

The lecture theatre was usually packed. Punctually at quarter past the hour 
a small elderly gentleman entered and was greeted with lively knocking [a 
German student custom, desks are tapped at the beginning and end of lectures]. 

He really was unusually small. His height and features were a little reminiscent 
of the painter Pablo Picasso. He bowed, a little sideways, rather more with his 
right shoulder than the left, in acknowledgement of the student applause, 
smiled and began [. . .] to speak. His voice was very clear and very melodious 

He spoke in a way which I had not heard an academic teacher speak before. 

He spoke with considerable digressions, he spoke wittily, entertainingly, but 
nevertheless always stuck closely to the topic, had titles and dates in his head, 
some in French, some in German. Only for the exact bibliographical details 
of secondary literature did he occasionally need [his] matchbox label-sized 
scraps of paper. In his hands literature, French literature, the literature of the 


XIV 


The Lesser Evil 


Romance languages, world literature became a dense and gracefully entwined 
plant, unceasingly sending out new sprigs like an old ivy. 

The longer-serving of his students sometimes made fun of his pronunciation 
in which there was more than a touch of Paris slang. [. . .] 

Across his figure and his work there lies like a shadow the gentle danger of 
being forgotten. But anyone who has ever read one of his texts, or even 
experienced him in person, will find this danger absurd and the shadow barely 
perceptible. 

I know, that I loved him very much. 12 

The picture drawn here may come almost as a surprise to the reader of the 
diaries, which do not always give a very flattering self-portrait of Klemperer. 
But then a diarist who was consistently uncritical and uncontradictory in his 
judgement of himself would not be much worth reading. At the very least, 
however, Schneider's generous characterisation should remind us that a diary, 
too, no matter how merciless and seemingly unmediated, is a document among 
other documents, and has no more claim to ultimate truth. 

So, who was Victor Klemperer? Hans-Joachim Petsche has tried to sum up the 
impossibilities of this life, of Victor Klemperer's twentieth century: 

A German nationalist, a liberal, a cosmopolitan, an anti-Bolshevik, an anti- 
communist, a Jew, a Communist even? 

He was probably first of all a German Jew whom Germans made into a Jew, 
who never again wanted to be among the losers and nevertheless found 
himself on the losing side. Is it possible to make oneself more of an unperson 
than Klemperer? Not a proper German, not a proper Jew, not a proper liberal, 
not a proper Communist. No representative fate, no typical hero. He was timid 
and vain, called himself egotistical and unfeeling, had neither the common 
touch nor was he sympathetic to youth, technologically uneducated and 
plagued by self-doubts in his own ability as a scholar. With what mischievous 
and wise good-humour he smiles from his photos, while those who knew him, 
said how light-hearted he was. 13 

Each opposition in that summation could be the start of a separate essay on 
Victor Klemperer, which would also be an essay on his times. Here I want to 
conclude with a few remarks on the shifts in his attitudes to his Jewishness. 14 

Victor Klemperer, son of a very reform-minded rabbi, in the sense of accom- 
modation to German Protestant norms and rituals, had from an early age 
resisted being defined as Jewish. Like two of his three brothers, he married a 
gentile wife. 15 His conversion to Protestantism was a mark of adherence to 
enlightened secularism and a particularly Prussian notion of Germanness rather 
than a matter of belief. (Much later, to please his second wife, he even goes 
through with a secret Catholic church wedding, the preparations and event 
itself rich in comic detail. See diary entries for 20 April, 30 April, 15 May and 
30 May 1957.) 

Victor Klemperer stuck to his German identity (or it stuck to him) despite 


Introduction 


xv 


what had happened in Germany under the Third Reich and what he himself 
had experienced. Indeed, his commitment to Communism should also be seen 
as embodying his hope of working for a renewal of Germany within an untainted 
German tradition. On 2 January 1953 he notes his negative response to an 
article about him by his friend and colleague Rita Schober: 'Rita had sent me a 
eulogy intended for publication, in which there was rather too much talk about 
the son of the rabbi, Jewish suffering etc. I wrote to her most unequivocally: I 
found philo-Semitism just as unpleasant as anti-Semitism. I am a German and 
a Communist, nothing else.' In part this is the official Klemperer speaking, but 
it also reflects a deeply held view. This continued assertion of himself as German 
co-exists with the memories and fears of a Jew who narrowly escaped death, 
which finds expression in a very comprehensible overestimation of Nazism as 
a political force, whether among the population of East Germany or in West 
Germany. When he is with other Jews, he records the conversation as always 
returning to the fate of those who did not return from deportation or who 
were already murdered in Germany. He remains, however, hostile to Zionism, 
continuing to equate Nazism and Zionism as racist. The evidence of anti- 
Semitism in the Eastern bloc, notably when the so-called 'Doctors' Plot' initiates 
an anti-Jewish campaign in the Soviet Union and the satellite states shortly 
before Stalin's death, renders him incoherent. 16 

And yet, whether it's old age, regret at missed opportunities, disenchantment 
with Communism and the GDR - and the interest and influence of his young 
wife should not be underestimated - Klemperer becomes less intransigent. He 
expresses a desire to visit Israel to see old friends, he writes sympathetically 
about the Jewish faith of Albert Konrad, one of his fellow forced labourers 
during the war. On his sickbed during his final illness Klemperer is several times 
visited by his nephew Peter (son of his brother Berthold and of Anny Klemperer) 
and his wife Inge, who is working on a historical dissertation about Jews at the 
medical faculty of Berlin University. It is a topic with close family associations: 
Victor's other two brothers, Georg and Felix, had been distinguished doctors, 
medical researchers and teachers. She tells Victor that she is under pressure to 
play down the Jewish theme in her work. 'Characteristic of the GDR', he notes. 
'And characteristic of me: I would very much like to see the Jewish theme and 
have it dedicated to me.' 

That was Victor Klemperer's view more or less on his deathbed. (He did not 
get the quick end he longed for, the last diary entry is 29 October 1959; he did 
not die until 1 1 February the following year.) More typical of the ambivalences 
that marked Klemperer's life is what he records of an incident during a visit to 
Prague (where as a young man he had often given lectures to Jewish associations) 
with Hadwig Klemperer. The couple had made a spring trip to a winter sports 
resort in Slovakia, Hadwig had skied, he had read. On the journey out they had 
arranged with a Jewish guide to see the Jewish sights on the return leg. 'I did 
not tell the guide, at least not for the time being, that I am very closely connected 
to Prague [he means through his parents and their extended families]; he will 
in any case have got that from my name in the visitors' book.' Written, I think, 
not without a touch of pride. 


XVI 


The Lesser Evil 


In any case, they stop over in Prague on the way home to Dresden: 

The next morning, Sunday, 7th April, to the Old Synagogue. We found it, but 
not the entrance. A young man, fabulous oriental eyes under the round kippa, 
observed us for a while. Then to me: Are you a Jew. No, but we were looking 
for the entrance. He showed, asked in jargon, naively importunate. Whether 
H. my daughter? No, my wife. 'Such a young woman, such a beautiful young 
woman!' He shook her hand. What beautiful warm hands! I did not know, 
whether to be outraged, or whether I should accept his behaviour as oriental 
courtesy. H. laughed, very amused. Meanwhile the tourist guide came out of 
the synagogue, recognised us immediately - [. . .] took charge of us, left the 
bocher standing, who looked at us in surprise [diary entry, 10 April 1957]. 

It is predictable that Klemperer, given what has been said and quoted above, 
would deny being Jewish. That is not simply a matter of politics, it also reflects 
the sense of superiority of the German Jew over the Eastern ('oriental') Jew, 
speaking in 'jargon', that is to say, Yiddish, which Klemperer no doubt regarded 
as no more than a debased form of German. (It hardly needs saying that 
only two generations back Klemperer's family, too, were 'Eastern' Jews.) But in 
introducing the Yiddish word 'bocher' - fellow - he even reinforces that super- 
iority. The 'bocher' is not going to put anything over on him. He, Klemperer, 
even understands the 'jargon'. 

A reflection on language, one linking language and Jewishness, is perhaps an 
appropriate point at which to conclude these notes on the complexities and 
contradictions of Victor Klemperer. Acute contradictions had been a part of 
Klemperer's whole life, but they became even more intense and difficult in his 
final years in East Germany. As Hans-Joachim Petsche remarked, his was not, in 
many ways, 'a representative fate', 17 but his life was remarkable nonetheless, for 
all that so much of it was lived in the scholar's study, in the seminar room, 
behind the lectern. It's a life, too, which would have remained in obscurity but 
for the twelve years of the Nazi Reich which dragged him out of the study, 
forcing him to turn his academic skills and his literary talents (the despised 
fluency of his journalism) to the observation and analysis of the society around 
him, which proved so unexpectedly capable of murder on a mass scale. Klem- 
perer's postwar diaries show him still trying to come to terms with that over- 
whelming fact and trying to catch up on the life and work of which he had 
been deprived; still, indeed, trying to make that name in the world which, as 
the youngest son of the family, he owed it to his father to achieve. He sometimes 
imagines his father looking down on him from above, and maybe there is a 
kind of progress in the fact that he no longer fears being overshadowed by his 
eldest brother Georg, the fiercely critical dominant family figure of Victor 
Klemperer's early years. 

A note on the translation 

The diaries Victor Klemperer kept from 1945 to 1959 were very detailed. They 
were considerably longer than those for the period 1933-45 which, of course, 


Introduction 


xvn 


were kept up under often very adverse conditions. The German editor, Walter 
Nowojski, made extensive cuts for the German published edition of 1999, on 
which the present English-language version is based. However, that still pro- 
duced a two-volume German text of a rather greater length than that for the 
Nazi years. The English publisher felt, rightly I think, that there was too much 
material here, on Victor Klemperer's activities in the Communist Party, in 
Communist Party cultural organisations, as an academic - an avalanche of 
names, meetings and abbreviations, indeed - to be of interest to the general 
reader. The decision was taken, therefore, to prepare a one-volume English 
edition, which, I hope, nevertheless faithfully represents Victor Klemperer's 
view of his life in post-war East Germany, and of his fears and dilemmas, 
achievements and disappointments. 

Finally, readers may notice that whereas in the earlier volumes the educational 
institution at which Klemperer taught until 1935, and to which he was re- 
appointed in 1945, is referred to as Dresden Technical University, here I have 
used the more literal Dresden Technical High School. Technical University is in 
fact the standard English translation of the German Technische Hochschule'. 
However, when I was translating the earlier diaries I did not realise that one 
theme, if a minor one, of the early part of the present diaries would be a debate 
on the advantages of changing the title 'Dresden Technische Hochschule' to 
'Universitat'. 

Martin Chalmers 
London 
April 2003 


1945 


1 7th June, Sunday. Dolzschen 
Time 

During every programme, dozens of times a day, Radio Berlin announces the 
time, and that is a blessing. But when Berlin says 8 p.m., it's 7 p.m. here and 9 
p.m. in Bremen: the Russians have Moscow Time in Berlin, Summer Time in 
Dresden, the English in their section Central European Time. 

When I'm on my way somewhere, I'm forever asking: what's the time? Usual 
answer: I don't have a watch any more either. Once: I'm not going to wear it, 
am I? 

[...] 

Wolf relates how Russian soldiers conversed with him as a Communist and 
liberated prisoner in a really friendly way, but then in just as friendly a way 
gripped his wrist: Comrade - watch? But he didn't have one any more. 

Transport 

The isolation of the individual and the group, the lack of means of transport 
and communication is in literally every respect, physical and mental, the basic 
problem, which draws all other afflictions in its train. [. . .] Mail - with Hitler's 
head blacked out on the stamps! - only within the area of greater Dresden, but 
even here a letter from Neumark 1 to me, from Reickerstr. to the Kirschberg, took 
three days, and Wolf thought that was quick ... It is impossible to telephone 
local government departments because they don't give out their numbers . . . 
Telegraphy appears to be still completely absent . . . Trams, as in Munich, only 
from the outlying districts to the edge of the city [. . .] The right hand does not 
know what the left hand is doing, the right middle finger does not know what 
the left ring finger is doing, etc. etc., in every field. There is now a state of 
Dresden, a state of Dolzschen [. . .] etc., each mayor rules, administers, organises, 
helps, confiscates etc. (so far as the Russians permit, who issue summary orders 


2 


The Lesser Evil 


and don't bother about details) on his own initiative, without contact with 
other mayors or knowledge of their instructions. 

In many respects I am no less isolated here than I was in Unterbernbach, 2 
and here it is more upsetting for me than there. [. . .] I know nothing at all of 
many of our friends and acquaintances - there is no possibility whatsoever of 
making contact or inquiries, only by word of mouth, by chance does something 
turn up here and there, is a little ray of light cast here and there. [. . .] 

My initial general and political impression. 

Almost complete chaos, over which a very thin varnish of comfort is spread by 
news sheet and wireless. But perhaps that judgement is presumptuous and 
unjust. To Katz 3 in Borsbergstr., to Neumark in Reickerstr. I walked endlessly 
along completely destroyed, completely desolate streets, at Plauen Station 4 I 
saw the refugees with their belongings crouching just as wretchedly as a hundred 
times on the way here, but I also see really cheerful and calm people of every 
age, they have almost enough to eat, they do not fear bombs any more, and 
the looting etc. of the Russians has virtually ceased. The overriding impression 
is always that of the absolute precariousness and of the absolute isolation of 
every cell. [. . .] 

A very clever general appeal by the KPD [Communist Party of Germany] has 
been published in the Berliner Volkszeitung, the first newspaper almost worthy 
of the name, it talks of a democratic bloc of the anti-Fascist parties and bases 
itself on 'Order no. 2' of the Russian High Command, which permits elections - 
but what will be the extent of this freedom and what decisions will an elected 
body be allowed to take?? Non-Socialist parties as far as the [Catholic] Zentrum 
are supposed to be included in this bloc. Explanatory articles repeatedly and 
vociferously deny that the aim is a Communist Party dictatorship, pure Bol- 
shevism in Germany. But there is also the repeated warning, that first of all 
there will have to be a general clean-up, and that the liberation was thanks to 
Russia, and that the Russians' natural trustee and liaison officer is the KPD. And 
so everything is uncertain. On the wireless, too, we hear only Russian news or 
news with a Russian bias [...]. In addition there are constantly appeals and 
incitements to root out the Nazis, reports about their atrocities, about the 
capture of hidden Nazi bosses, about interrogations. All of that is undoubtedly 
right, not exaggerated and necessary - but what will be the long-term effect? 
And what - this is most on my mind - will be the effect on the future position 
of the Jews in Germany? Very soon people will be saying: they're jumping the 
queue, they're taking their revenge, they're the winners: Hitler and Goebbels 
were right. 


19th June , Tuesday. Dolzschen 

We got here on Sunday the 10th, the first night we spent with Kalau, a good 
man, by the second night we were already in our house, a still indescribable 
feeling, still like a waking dream, since then we've been living in a fairy-tale 
world, a comical, imaginary and yet very real but somewhat uncertain world, a 


June 1945 


3 


comical, sometimes affecting, sometimes almost contemptible paradise, and 
still I haven't managed to get any peace to work, I'm making hardly any progress 
with my diary, the skimpy headings of our days on the road have not yet been 
filled out, the great wealth of this week has not been set down, I have not yet 
attended to the fate of my mss in Pirna 5 [. . .] every errand is a major enterprise 
taking up a whole day [...]: I am too tired to do anything at all, the day goes 
by with eating and eating again, with dozing and sleeping, with the numerous 
visits I receive and make, with chatting, with plans and scepticism, with tir- 
edness, waiting, drifting along and with tiredness again. By turns in a state of 
astonished bliss and of sceptical amazement I float above this complete fairy- 
tale reversal of our fortune, and with the ominous fear, it may all have come too 
late, my heart, my mind growing senile, even the rustiness of my knowledge - 1 
can hardly string ten words together in French any more - may all play an 
annihilating trick on me. But all of this, hope, dread, scepticism, fear, is dead- 
ened by tiredness and a state of sluggish, animal-like well-being: constantly 
eating, constantly sleeping, from time to time listening to the wireless a little. 

Still: on one of the first days here I went to see Neumark, then Katz and 
yesterday [. . .] to Melanchthonstr. to see Grohmann. 6 

We had often imagined what it would be like, should we ever really return 
here. For me it was actually a disagreeable feeling to have anything to do with 
the people here again. E., whose relationship to the house is different from 
mine (and whose constant delight from morning to night, whose virtual blos- 
soming gives me the greatest pleasure in this whole business), E. said we would 
not take the least notice of anyone and live in seclusion in our garden. Instead 
all this time and from the very first moment we have been a triumphal hub and 
constantly oscillate between being moved and feeling contempt for mankind. 
Some are undoubtedly honest, others?? It started just as we had made our way 
up here a week ago yesterday afternoon. A young woman came running after 
us: We talked about you so often, in fact only yesterday afternoon! Neither of 
us knew her, Frau Dr Konig, wife of a doctor of medicine and dentist. We 
had to have coffee with her, we were overwhelmed with cigarettes and other 
attentions, she has meanwhile paid us a visit, has brought us jam and other 
provisions, we have also got to know her husband. She does not make a 
bad impression - but, but. The mayor was not to be found, she herself had 
recommended Kalau to us as a powerful man, the husband of the midwife in 
Pesterwitzstr. We came upon the man in the field he has rented, ploughing 
behind two horses. I called to him, that I had come from Dr Konig, he replied 
curtly, that he couldn't talk about official business now. But as soon as he heard 
my name, and what it was about, he not only became very courteous, but 
displayed a warmth, which has thus far proved to be lasting and genuine. The 
misunderstanding was cleared up: it is Kalau who allocates labour duty, i.e. 
nawying, to the [Nazi] Party members and he is inundated with objections and 
pleas. Everyone claims he was forced to be a pg [i.e. Parteigenosse = Party 
member] . Among those mustered for the first time that day was also Dr Konig, 
of which, naturally, I could have no idea and which, naturally, makes the great 
friendliness the family has demonstrated since then somewhat questionable. 


4 


The Lesser Evil 


Yet the man really did give me the impression of someone who was politically 
uninvolved, who only joined the Party in order to go on practising his profession 
[...]. (But the millions of Dr Konigs - are they not the guilty ones after all??) 


20th ]une, Wednesday 

We were exhausted and starved: Kalau immediately said we were now his guests 
and took us to his home. A small, spotlessly clean and not at all poorly furnished 
apartment. His wife, with her qualifications as a nurse and midwife, a person 
of some education as well as perfect manners, moreover no Mistress Midwife, 
but instead slim and youthful, nice children. We got supper, were forced, really 
forced to sleep in the couple's bedroom. The next morning the fairy tale began, 
which still continues, if increasingly in an oppressive way - the inevitably re- 
awakening anti-Semitism! - and has come to a very awkward climax at this very 
moment: Kalau has sent us four men, including a former local mayor, to remove 
the air-raid shelter in the garden, and they must now of course do dishonourable 
labour for the vengeful Jew. 

We went to Mayor Scholz, who, since the day before yesterday, is already out 
of the post - Dolzschen has been incorporated into an enlarged Dresden district 
and is being administered from Dresden-Plauen, where Scholz is now an official 
in the housing office. But during my first week here he was the ruler. He greeted 
us with a solemn address: the wrong done to us must be made good immediately 
and in whole, the house was now our property, we alone were free to make 
decisions concerning it. Berger 7 had fled from the Russians, we should inhabit 
his confiscated pieces of furniture until others had been procured for us, we 
should now, in our turn, feel no pity for the man, who had been a crook and 
had abused us. At the moment, a family, the Wolfs, were in the house, half- 
Jews, who had already been allocated other accommodation, and perhaps we 
could get on with them for a few days - but if we insisted on immediate 
vacation, then it would simply have to be vacated immediately. The decision 
on the fate of the shop installed by Berger in our music room was also entirely 
up to us. The local authority wanted to set up a co-operative store there. But 
naturally: if I insisted, the whole house would be vacated immediately [...]. I 
just as naturally gave permission for the shop premises to be used by the co- 
operative free of charge - it was to my benefit, because now my house gets a 
telephone, which is only permitted 'essential enterprises', to say nothing of the 
other advantages, to say nothing of the goodwill of the authorities. I have got 
on with the Wolfs, who will only move out in the course of this week - that 
was and is very much to my benefit, because we get free board from the Wolfs, 
they cook for us, keep the house tidy and provide us with many good things, 
so that we are almost a little afraid of their departure ... We were then taken up 
to the Begerburg , 8 the former Nazi headquarters, there to be fitted out with 
confiscated clothing. Very few items could be found for me, but it was touching, 
how everyone made such an effort to help and please us. We were virtually 
showered with cigarettes, we were slipped provisions and real coffee. This 
willingness to help, this desire to give, please, make good, continued and still 


June 1945 


5 


continues, and much of it really does seem to come from the heart and out of 
a sense of justice. [. . .] At the Begerburg I was given a very decent waterproof 
summer coat, 'to cover your shame'. Meanwhile the moth holes in an otherwise 
very passable pair of trousers have been mended for me and a jacket is being 
made out of a frock-coat -[...] for my sore feet (the right one is very swollen) I 
have been given a pair of very soft, new patent-leather dance shoes as slippers, 
and by Forbrig, the teacher, a pair of calf-skin boots, which are a perfect fit. I 
am granted other favours. In accordance with Soviet regulations (very 
characteristic!) I, as a scholar, get a heavy worker's ration card (4 grades: heavy 
worker, worker, white-collar worker, non-worker, graduated from 1 lb down to 
7 oz of bread, with corresponding amounts of meat and fat). E. has received the 
same card, because she shared hardships and dangers with me. Then, it is now 
extremely difficult to get hold of a typewriter [...]: I was given a permanent 
loan of an immaculate Continental portable from the confiscated property of a 
district judge. 

Of course I am entirely surrounded by things which are borrowed, confiscated, 
which are not my own: everything, furniture, linen, crockery, every spoon, 
every glass belongs to Berger. The man must have been making black-market 
deals, he has nouveau riche furnishings - in quite good taste incidentally. 
Upholstered easy chairs with a smoking table in the hall, a sideboard of highly 
polished heavy wood, two couches, one of them a double bed, a good desk in 
what used to be my room, a (clumsy but genuine) oil painting, a billiard table, 
a big expensive wireless set, in addition a great deal of tasteful crockery. He 
came to see me, pleaded with me to let him have the things, he was now 
without home or work. But at the town hall and elsewhere, I have been told 
how B. feathered his nest, thanks to connections with the Nazis, how he cheated 
the populace, and further, what false rumours he spread about us, who were 
thought to be dead. He claimed to have been our protector, to have provided 
us with foodstuffs, to have procured a new mortgage for us. In truth, he did 
everything to get the house into his own hands [...], in truth I didn't even get 
one cherry from him, instead he made out unverifiable and false bills for the 
removal of rubble. I have no reason, moreover hardly any possibility, to treat 
him very considerately. I just don't want to appear the triumphant Jewish spirit 
of revenge. When he came to me, I told him: everything has been confiscated 
and I am, at my discretion, only permitted to hand over individual items to 
you. I shall do that, the rest I shall keep for the time being [. . .], a part will also 
serve as my security, since it is likely that I shall have claims to make against 
you. He departed in a very bitter mood, and I don't feel very happy about the 
business - but what should I do? 

Now the condition of the house. On the whole it is intact. Up here very few 
houses were hit, and in ours only a very few window panes broken. On the 
other hand Russian looters badly damaged the door to our former little dining 
room next to the kitchen, which Berger used as a cellar, and in which they 
probably expected to find wine. Also a little piece of the chimney is missing, 
and pointing and the protective coat on house and fence naturally have to be 
renewed. But as already said: the house as a whole is intact [...]. The blemish 


6 


The Lesser Evil 


of the built-in shop will have to be removed later. Also, and that will be at 
Berger's expense, there will have to be a flue pipe in the garage again, its 
ventilation was blocked by the steps Berger had built up to the terrace, i.e. up 
to the shop entrance. And apart from that the nasty air-raid shelter at the side 
window of the hall has got to be removed, it's got dry rot, a serious danger to 
the wooden house! [. . .] Today four men have been muddling around this shelter 
fairly listlessly and unsuccessfully. Nevertheless it is yet another sign of what 
efforts are being made on our behalf, that without further ado I am allocated 
navvies from labour duty. 

The garden affected and affects me more deeply than the house itself. It has 
become a fertile jungle, what were tiny trees now have big trunks, crowding 
one another. Chief attraction of the whole place, its finest adornment and our 
ready exchange, as it were, are nine cherry trees, which are indescribably loaded 
with fruit. [. . .] we are all eating cherries almost night and day, our friends have 
been showered with paper bags and baskets full of cherries (the Konigs, Michel, 
Kalau), and so far only one of the nine has been polished off. Then the big, 
broad yew [...]. Then the once dainty olive, now a broad powerful tree. The 
birches, maples, plum trees, chestnuts - everything that was a sapling is now a 
handsome tree [...]. Redcurrant and gooseberry bushes are thick with green and 
red fruit, big strawberries growing between them. E. walks around the garden 
all day, planning, improving, also eating fruit, is beginning to clear the paths, 
has replanted tobacco and tomato plants, is at last in her element again, also 
supervises in tolerable harmony the bunker navvies, to whom I do not show 
my face. 

The Wolfs, the family with whom we are sharing the house, are odd, somewhat 
mysterious people, matching the confusion of the times [...]. The man, early 
forties, both parents Jewish, nevertheless contrived to get by as a quarter Jew or 
an Aryan, remarried during the Hitler years, again to an Aryan, was pursued by 
the Gestapo, eluded them for a long time, but in between was in a labour camp 
for a while, was a hotel porter in various cities - we always had to scarper , says 
the wife - was in Konigsberg, in Bromberg , 9 knows every trick, always bobbed 
up again and here - how did he get here of all places? how did he come to 
power? how far did this power extend, how long did it last? puzzling questions 
all of them - and here, for a moment, when the Russians moved in, he played 
a dominant role [. . .] somehow as a negotiator with the Russians and in their 
good books, without being able to speak Russian, somehow leader of the radicals, 
house searcher etc. All of it is clear as mud. He talks with some rancour about 
Mayor Scholz, who is or was not radical enough for him, with some contempt 
about Brauer, who is going to manage the co-operative shop, with good-natured 
condescension about Michel. In fact Scholz is a petrol-pump attendant, Brauer 
a joiner, Michel is an invalid from the First World War and works at a knitting 
machine, Kalau is a precision-tool maker - none of them knows anything about 
administration and government, are merely decent and convinced KPD men, 
merely workers and nothing more, and Wolf is of course shrewder than they 
are. [. . .] He has a young second wife, a half-grown girl from his first, divorced 
marriage, an elderly mother-in-law. The wife gets her grammar all mixed up, 


June 1945 


7 


the mother-in-law [. . .] makes no secret of the fact, that in her youth she was a 
maid to 'persons of rank'. But the behaviour of all these people is altogether 
pleasant, obliging and sensible. Of course, I don't believe that Wolf moved in 
here only to look after the place on my behalf, he undoubtedly also reckoned 
on my death and that he would be the permanent inheritor, but he immediately 
acknowledged my claim and made co-habitation so comfortable, that we benefit 
greatly from it. We are relieved of all the housekeeping, cooking and cleaning, 
we are excellently fed, and that to a great extent from the W. family's supplies, 
whose contacts are very good [...]. It is not really clear to me, why the W.'s spoil 
us so greatly, because I do not know how I could be of help to him and I make 
no secret of this inability. Is there some calculation involved after all, or a bit 
of showing-off, or real warm-heartedness? Perhaps a bit of everything. W. says, 
we are the only Jews up here and should stick together. [. . .] I do not know on 
which day the W.'s will really leave us, and what our further relationship will 
be then, but until now we have fared well with them, and we really have some 
affection for them. Poor devils, adventurers, declassees, no harmless angels, for 
sure, but in many respects decent and open-hearted people [...]. 


21st June, Thursday 

One, at most two typewritten pages, that is all I manage in the course of a day. 
Constant tiredness, but also constant distraction and nothing sorted out yet. 
The Wolfs still here and the navvies at the shelter and Brauer in his shop. 
Yesterday evening young Schmidt from the house behind us called and stayed 
for a long time. The little boy has turned into a young man with excellent 
manners, he has just come back from the forces, was a medical orderly in the 
navy, wants to study medicine. His father, the tax official (compulsorily a pg), 
learned Russian when he was a PO W for years in Siberia [during the First World 
War] and is now going to organise a Russian course here. (Of course every pg 
and every pg's son is pleased if, officially or unofficially, I give him a good 
character reference.) The visit robbed me of at least an hour's typing. [. . .] 

Here in the village I have a somewhat closer relationship, almost of a pro- 
fessional nature, with Forbrig, who was fired and is now once again in his post 
as headmaster. He has lent me elementary school textbooks of the Third Reich, 
as well as Mein Kampf but I also owe him pipe and tobacco and boots. 

I first made contact with the lost Jewish world at Neumark's. From him I 
learned, that the people from the Sporergasse [Jews' house ], 10 the Riegers and 
the Feders, are dead (it is sinful, but I don't mourn Feder very much), that from 
Zeughausstr . 11 the almost crippled Komblum died, that the rest are probably all 
alive but have not turned up yet. [. . .] (In every single respect the lack of contact, 
the impossibility of finding anything out.) Frau Kornblum and her daughter, 
very small and not very agreeable people, have meanwhile, likewise time- 
consuming, been up here. Sitting in Neumark's waiting room was a young 
gentleman with a neat full beard, whom I did not recognise at first. He intro- 
duced himself: Adolf Bauer . 12 He was working with Konrad ; 13 although not in 
the trade, he would like to publish my diaries. Afterwards Neumark firmly 


8 


The Lesser Evil 


warned me against him, the man wasn't serious, furthermore as an SS member 
rather suspect. Against that, Konrad, who paid us a long visit up here, related 
this: Bauer had in fact bought his Jews, who had been destined for deportation 
on 16 February, from the Gestapo for 500 marks each, and now Jewish signatures 
were being collected on his behalf. On his own account K. is pursuing, thus far 
without success, the resumption of his activity at the slaughterhouse: for the 
moment only workers and not businessmen are being approved. He spoke very 
gloomily about the Russians: they were recklessly slaughtering the farmers' last 
livestock, our German livestock reserves would be destroyed. The Russians were 
proceeding just as ruthlessly and only concerned for their own reconstruction 
[. . .] in other spheres: they are transplanting whole factories with all their 
machinery ('they don't leave even a screw behind!') to Russia, they also transport 
the skilled workers there, on important railway lines they tear up the tracks, 
which are also taken away to Russia and leave only a single line in operation 
on these stretches, e.g. Dresden-Berlin. When it suits them, e.g. yesterday in 
town, they fetch people out of the tram, men and women of every age, and set 
them to work [in the ruins]. They are merciless victors. On the wireless it sounds 
quite different. [. . .] For sure, everything that is said about the crimes of Hitlerism 
is absolutely right, and everything that is said about Russian efforts at recon- 
struction and acts of humanity is 90% right, but the missing 10% and the 
monotonous and constant repetition - why is all other news, are all other 
themes absent, why is everything politicised and everything else sunk without 
trace? - certainly do harm. And because I have observed all this in the Third 
Reich, and because I must now, whether I like it or not, regard everything with 
respect to its effect on the Jews, I do not feel very happy about it. 

My next call was Katz. He is thin and pale and much more tired than during 
the Hitler years. He has become 'the slave of his liberators'. He has an assistant 
physician and a medical student in her third semester [as receptionist] in the 
place of the dead Ruth Rieger. Blonde middle-class girl, who takes exception to 
the proletarianisation of all council offices, who was certainly not excessively 
Nazi, but noticed little of the atrocities of the Third Reich and is very much 
struck by the unpleasantnesses of Russian and Communist rule. This is where 
the danger lies, this is the breeding ground of new reactionary, new chauvinist 
and even Nazi currents . . . Fraulein Mey, 14 who still works at the university and 
was bombed out, lives with this student. I sent word to her, that she should 
come up and see me as soon as possible, but have thus far, almost a whole week, 
waited for her in vain . . . Without having sought it Katz is now medical adviser 
and senior assessor to all anti-Fascist associations and works from 7 a.m. to 11 
p.m., his whole private household is overwhelmed by the excessive amount of 
work simply in terms of space - I was examined in the bedroom - his lively 
wife's nerves have suffered just as greatly as his own. [. . .] On the way there, at 
the sight of the half-ruined new Technical High School, it had suddenly occurred 
to me: Dresden must become a full university, now or never. Because the 
Russians, who want to shine culturally, need technology above all, which is 
established here at the Technical High School, but not in Leipzig and they can 
make a big impression, if they use the cultural sciences department as a stepping 


June 1945 


9 


stone to a humanities faculty, set up a proper university [...]. I talked about my 
plans with confidence and authority, increasingly so as I continued, to Katz, for 
whom I pictured a future as sport and student doctor and as an academic. I 
would realise this plan. 'Not you alone, but you together with others.' Yes, he 
was right and I had merely expressed myself clumsily, of course we should not 
elbow our way to the front and give ourselves airs as beneficiaries and victors. 
Katz, Neumark and I were entirely at one, in being very disapproving of the 
success of the pushy and overbearing Werner Lang, 15 who has become president 
of the chamber of commerce (whereas Neumark and Katz remain in the back- 
ground without big titles). 

Soon after my visit to Katz my plans were so extravagantly fulfilled, that I 
don't quite believe in their fulfilment [...]. I had entrusted Neumark with 
making contact on my behalf with Lord Mayor Friedrichs, 16 so that I could 
negotiate with him about my teaching post and my financial claims, without 
having to wait a long time [...]. I received the reply, that my financial claims 
should not be addressed to the city, which Friedrichs represented, but to the 
administration of the state [of Saxony], which was in the process of being set 
up, I should meanwhile discuss any other matters with Dr Grohmann, head of 
the department of culture, he would see me at any time, the letter was sufficient 
legitimation. The journey there was long and exhausting, even though I could 
use the tram at points. At Melanchthonstr. I was allowed into the building 
immediately and entered a large school room; men and women were sitting 
writing at the benches - non-Nazi teachers registering to start work. [. . .] It was 
half past eleven, Grohmann had driven off a few minutes earlier and was 
unlikely to be back before two. The first number of the Berliner Volkszeitung 
[Berlin People's Newspaper] was pushed into my hand and I waited on a school 
bench. Then suddenly Grohmann was standing in front of me and silently and 
without introduction shook my hand. My first impression, even before he 
opened his mouth, was: art, dilettantism, Landauer, Munich 1919. 17 Perhaps, 
rather, a half-unconscious and ingenuous play-acting. Ingenuous cluelessness, 
ingenuous confidence in being able to reform, overthrow, idealise. Forty years 
old, fifty? Thin grey hair above a smooth, well-fed, youthful face. From every- 
thing he said by the way and in between, from his first words alone, it appeared 
that the man had real interest and - perhaps - expertise only in theatre and 
opera. [. . .] He told me which singers and actresses he had dismissed, which he 
had kept for the time being, which were to remain permanently (no individual 
names, but in groups depending on the date of their Party membership). [. . .] 
It was somewhat difficult to get him around to my business and make him stick 
to it. Naturally I was professor in Dresden again immediately, 'we set great value 
on your judgement'. I came out with my Dresden University plan, advanced 
my reasons, said: 'Now or never.' He: 'You want to start a university here? It will 
be all the easier, as the state of Saxony will now be doubled in size.' And, as if 
it were a matter of a sandwich: 'Good, then we'll start a university here . . . We'll 
get what can be realised now up and running, the rest will follow. Likewise in 
Leipzig.' I: let me work in my field and only in my field, give me the double 
chair of Romance Literature and Intellectual History in Dresden and Leipzig 


10 


The Lesser Evil 


and appoint a linguist along with me, who will relieve me in that area. He: 
That's exactly what we'll do, and you yourself will pick your colleagues. None 
of the former professors in your field is there any more . . . You must be patient 
for just another few days, also with respect to your financial claims - I myself 
have not received a salary for months. The state administration is just being set 
up [. . .] Perhaps I myself will move from the city to the state administration. 
But your business is one hundred per cent (LTI!) certain. Very cordial handshake 
and leave-taking: 'You will have more in writing in the very near future.' 

I went, at first somewhat intoxicated and puffed-up, then very deflated and 
sceptical [...]. But I think, somehow I shall establish myself. Since then, probably 
already a week ago, I have not been in town again. 


22nd June, Friday 

In addition to my swollen foot and the general weakness and aimless wasting 
of time, I am genuinely ill: very badly affected by the stomach and intestinal 
complaint which has become almost epidemic here, since yesterday I have been 
helpless on my back, weak and feeling great pain and considerable nausea, I 
can hardly manage a couple of lines of the diary, a couple of lines of reading, I 
sleep most of the time. [. . .] 


23rd June, Saturday 

Still feeling very nauseous and tired. In addition constant distraction. In the 
garden they're hard at it removing the wretched shelter, which is full of dry rot. 
Were it not for the personal friendship with Kalau - for how much longer? he 
and his factory are supposed to go to Moscow, everything is uncertain - how 
would we get anything done? Four men on labour duty, at first unwilling, now 
more tractable, today a mason as well [. . .], he is also going to attend to the 
damage the house has, after all, suffered. [. . .] Danger and blast were closer than 
we had originally assumed. And in the evening, during a heavy thunderstorm 
and downpour, the rain came through with a vengeance [...]. In addition to 
the mason, we now also need cement, but we shall probably obtain that, too, 
through personal contacts. Then the matter of the shop took up a lot of time. 
It is to be affiliated to the Dresden Co-operative Society, and the latter wants to 
have the space fully at its disposal for at least three years. But we would like to 
be by ourselves again as soon as possible. On the other hand having the co- 
op in the house has great advantages for us (no tenant, telephone, goods, 
'connections'). The issue is still undecided . . . Then the affair of Schmidt junior. 
The well-behaved little boy has turned into a handsome young fellow [. . .] 
wants to study medicine and before that prefers to do labour service as a hospital 
attendant or the like rather than as a navvy ... In fact I myself had to take steps 
to avoid any kind of nawying duty, since the Russians have extended it to men 
of 65 years of age (45 for women): I have written to Grohmann for official 
confirmation that I am appointed professor from the winter semester on, and 


June 1945 


11 


that I very much need the time until then for preparation. (Which is absolutely 
true.) [. . .] 

Every couple of minutes, every couple of lines, no matter where I start I end up 
with the same sentence: everything is uncertain, everything is in suspense, 
there is nothing solid under one's feet, in one's hands . . . 

The day before yesterday, when I was feeling worst - 1 finally had to lie down 
and leave people to their own devices - there were visitors. Unannounced and 
driven only by her questing attachment, gentle Maria Kube 18 turned up, whom 
we had last spoken to when I was already wearing the star [. . .] and brought 
her good-looking son. Astonishing how concerned the woman is about the 
education of both her sons and what trouble she takes. She appears to want 
them to study. I shall be able to help her. She herself still speaks the somewhat 
laborious German of a foreigner, but with a great deal of good sense. She was 
bombed out, her husband is a prisoner of war in Czechoslovakia. She tells us 
that Agnes 19 lost her house in Piskowitz during the final stages of the fighting 
[...]. At the same time there arrived, as arranged, Schwarz, one of our fellow- 
inmates in Zeughausstr. [Schwarz had passed on a message to Klemperer a few 
days earlier, and Klemperer had gone to pay him a visit.] For all my liking of 
the man, it was first and foremost the bread connection which made me hobble 
the considerable distance down to Freital. I was taken up to a gallery, which 
was where the offices were, overlooking a huge, very warm bakery room. Schwarz 
was enthroned, cinema-like, in a big private office, looking youthful and used 
to giving commands, altogether the manager. Lang, the president of the 
chamber of commerce, had immediately appointed him to his old post, he had 
also already been allocated a little house, which had formerly belonged to an 
SS officer, at the other end of the city, however, in Buhlau. We exchanged 
memories and experiences, Schwarz got an invitation up here and a promise of 
cherries, I got a loaf under my arm and the promise of further occasional 
supplies. S. said we were being amply provided with grain by Russia, there was 
nothing to fear in this respect. [. . .] 

Schwarz is not my first and only extra source of bread. During the very first 
days there appeared (God knows who had told him about me) a fat elderly 
gentleman with a touch of Austrian joviality, whom I had difficulty remem- 
bering, Herr Steininger. Caspar David Friedrich Str. - Frau Pick 20 - dismissed 
bank employee - philo-Semite - bookkeeper in a bread factory [...]. And again 
we immediately got eight pounds of bread coupons as a present and also very 
interesting news and additional pieces of information. Steininger, in his late 
60s, got through the bad years with great shrewdness. At the beginning - he 
was then already retired - he was sentenced to several months in prison for 
disparaging the Fuhrer, and his pension was considerably reduced as a result. 
This and his ('evidence to be provided') active philo-Semitism protects him 
today. D'altra parte: 21 In the course of 40 years he has built up a collection of 
several hundred thousand newspaper cuttings about every kind of notable 
person. He offered the Reich Chamber of Culture material from the archive, 
and it purchased it from him by giving him a small monthly allowance for 


12 


The Lesser Evil 


several years. That covered him against the Gestapo, before the war he could 
even take trips and do deals abroad, and in this way get Jewish valuables to 
safety in England. (He says he was received by the chief rabbi there and got a 
huge offer for Hitler cuttings - the papers were to be taken over by air plane, 
but the war intervened.) I don't know, of course, how much of that is really 
true, but I do know about his loyal friendship to Jews in difficult times, and the 
blatantly mischievous business pride of the man [. . .] - he has now sued the 
Dresdener Bank for back-payment of the share of his pension which was with- 
held - gave me a great deal of pleasure. Also, he will not only give me more 
bread coupons, but also bring me from his mostly saved material some things 
which I myself published. 

Towards evening 

In the morning Herr Schulz and Herr Neidhardt appeared. S., a pale mechanic 
specialising in typewriters, has already been here once, he wants to set up an 
anti-Fascist publishing house with a professional and today he brought along 
his partner. [. . .] Youthful giant (42 years old), beard, dark, good-natured and 
likeable, used to be 20 stone, is now half that. Was a photo-journalist for the 
Scherl newspaper group, frequently saw the 'Hitler fellow' at close quarters, was 
in the SPD, nephew of a Reichsbanner 22 leader, is now writing a journalistic 
book about Hitler [...]. (His thesis: the German people is to blame, not Hitler.) 
Has Russian permission to start the first new publishing house as an anti-Fascist 
publishing house , already has machines and workers, has Glaser 23 (whom I want 
to look up tomorrow morning) as legal adviser. Also talks very knowledgeably 
about literature and is not at all bloodthirstily radical. After sounding each 
other out for a while I offered: my diary since 1933, precisely the diary of 
the middling position, the average, the everyday, of lesser events. He was 
enthusiastic, will come here in the next few days to draw up a final contract, 
will provide a horse and cart to fetch our things, mss y todo 24 from Pima - he 
says there was less damage there and Annemarie's clinic, which he knows, was 
sure to have been spared. I intend to remain sceptical in everything, but the 
thing does give me great satisfaction. 

[..J 

I have now probably put down practically everything that needed to be added 
from these first two weeks here. [. . .] 

Tomorrow I want to work on the journey back here, 25 which I have only just 
begun, and then I shall have cleared the decks, no matter whether I plunge into 
the diary of the Hitler years or my coming French work. Despite nausea and 
shaky ground under my feet I am brimful of plans and a desire to work. Only, 
everything is constantly undermined and simultaneously stimulated by the 
How much longer? (By that alone and not a bit by the so clearly recognised 
vanitatum vanitas. 26 ) Admittedly the desire to work is balanced by a quite vulgar 
desire for pleasure. To just once eat well again, to drink well, go for a nice drive, 
to go to the seaside, to sit comfortably in the cinema ... No 20-year-old can be 
half as hungry for life . . . And all the time it makes me happy that E. is working 
on her house, on her garden and is coming to life again. 


June 1945 


13 


24th June , Sunday 

Last night I had a new bout of the unpleasant intestinal business, so bad, that 
I was unable to get up until late morning and now have difficulty staying on 
my feet. 

Hardly had I sat down in the easy chair, than Steininger came, put 8 pounds 
of bread coupons on the table and then [. . .] read out a wild letter of complaint 
to the lord mayor because of 'Gestapo-like' methods, in which he referred to 
'the distinguished Jewish scholar Professor Kl.', and which he has already sent 
off. His archive has been confiscated as 'state property of the Third Reich'. A 
highly embarrassing situation for him and for me. Because it is absolutely 
certain, that the man was playing a clever double game and also served the 
Third Reich. He says, he only sold 'scholarly' material - but he must have known 
how this material was used by the Nazis. 

E. called on Glaser this morning: result, Neidhardt's enterprise is serious, I 
should work with him. 

[...] 


25th June, Monday, about 7 p.m. 

The same thing for days. I am really and literally completely knocked out by 
illness. The night is bad, it's late morning before I can get up. After washing 
and shaving I am so tired that I almost immediately fall asleep in the easy chair. 
Then at midday I am able to eat something that strengthens me a little, but my 
eyelids are already drooping again. And then when I can finally think of my 
typewriter, visitors come and stay until evening. Thus this afternoon Frau 
Rasch, 27 who was our good angel when E. had pneumonia, turned up with her 
children [...]. Yesterday evening, after the Forbrigs left, we still had to go over 
to the Schmidts', where I drank a great amount of rum (which at least tasted 
good, even if it did me as little good as taking or avoiding anything else). Today 
has again been completely squandered in the same way. At the moment I feel 
fresher, but the next attack upsets everything again. 

I must slowly begin to pay systematic attention to the language of the fourth 
Reich. It sometimes seems to me, that it is less different from that of the third 
than, say, the Saxon of Dresden from that of Leipzig. When, for example, 
Marshal Stalin is the greatest living man, the most brilliant strategist etc. Or 
when in a speech from the beginning of the war Stalin talks of Hitler, very 
justifiably, as 'Hitler, the cannibal'. At any rate, I want to study our news sheet 
and the Deutsche Volkszeitung, which is now delivered to me, very carefully with 
respect to the LQI. 28 1 want to - but for the moment diarrhoea and lack of time 
are even more powerful than my will, because all strength and literally any 
peace and possibility of gathering my thoughts are lacking. (We are still too 
popular.) 

The biggest attraction here remain the cherries, we give away great amounts, 
much is simply picked from the trees by visitors, there will be very little left for 
jam-making. In a positive as in a negative sense we live like the lilies of the 
field. 


14 


The Lesser Evil 


Since midday yesterday there has been no electricity in the whole of Dresden, 
Eva used bricks and gridiron to build a temporary hearth in the garden, such as 
the refugees in Schonheider Hammer had. [. . .] 


27th June , Wednesday afternoon 

[..J 

Jung [a neighbour], who has proved to be very solicitous and is now working 
for a civil-engineering company charged with rebuilding the Pirna Bridge, first 
wanted to take us to Pirna yesterday and then today. The wood-gas car had a 
faulty engine: we waited in vain and go on groping in the dark. Fraulein Mey, 
from whom I hoped to have news about the TH, has sent word - via Schmidt 
jun., who [. . .] found a place as an operating-theatre attendant in the Fried- 
richstadter Hospital - that / should call on her. [. . .] There's something wrong 
there, and I'm still tapping in the dark. 

The Co-operative Association will not take over the shop after all, since I 
cannot agree to a contract of three years, such as it requires. Now there is a risk 
of a tenant being forced on me. We want to guard against that by taking in the 
Raschs or the Kubes. So here, too: obscurity, nothing decided. 

The Wolfs are still not in their new home. Never ending back and forth; the 
confusion all the greater, as the power cut has continued since midday on 
Sunday with only brief interruptions - it is said now, because the Russians are 
dismantling part of the electricity works and transporting it to Russia - and 
cooking is done in part on the temporary stove, in part in neighbours' homes. 

Still visit after visit, each one equally welcome and inconvenient. Yesterday 
the Glaser ladies, today Konrad: he brought a small sausage (but is still not 
allowed to work at the slaughterhouse) and got some of Steininger's bread 
coupons and a couple of cherries in return; I provided a good character reference 
for Adolf Bauer (see above, the ransomed Jews, exculpating the SS man!); I can, 
if need be (we still have 280M) borrow 500M from Schluter. 29 Even at the very 
end Schluter still got 38,000M for a truckload of his horrible Schluter teas! 
Konrad is working for Bauer and is in close touch with Schluter. 

There is a particular political reason for the fact that Wolf remains unable to 
move into his new home: it is a confiscated Nazi one. And the KPD here does 
not support Jews as zealously as, for example, their own party members - in the 
Jew it evidently suspects the businessman, non-worker, capitalists. Right at the 
beginning Neumark immediately complained to me, his general requests for 
the Jews met with resistance from Fischer, the deputy mayor [...]. 

No news from Neidhardt either. At the moment, foolishly, he is of particular 
importance to me. 

[...] 


29th June , Friday afternoon 

So far we have not managed to get into the right mood for our 29 June, 30 


June 1945 


15 


although we have good reason to do so a thousand times over, and the Pirna 
tragi-comedy is to blame for that. 

On Wednesday morning Dr Konig came to see us: he had written to Annemarie 
as his colleague and was now bringing her reply, according to which my mss 
were in good condition. 'Only the mss?' asked Eva mistrustfully, and so we had 
new cause for worry. But immediately after that Jung arrived: the car of his 
company, which is restoring the bridge in Pirna, was working and waiting 
outside with two gentlemen, a bookkeeper and an engineer. A nice big Mercedes 
with a wood-gas stove mounted on it. We drove off proudly - the first breakdown 
was by the Bienert mill. Lengthy fiddling around [. . .] finally a good-natured 
Russian had to pull us in a circle over the two Weisseritz bridges three times 
with his lorry, before the engine started again. After that, shaken and anxious, 
often past rubble and through pot-holes we got as far as Niedersedlitz, there a 
wheel gave out, and when it had been replaced, the engine wouldn't start again. 
A break of almost an hour - 1 collected unripe pears and filled my pockets with 
them. Nevertheless at half past three, after a good two hours, we were in Pirna, 
where we were very cordially received by Annemarie, Dressel and his whole 
family (mother, wife, three children). Very cordially, that is, not with much 
food, and that did not make Dressel's familiar convenient lukewarmness any 
more congenial to me. 'Do you really believe that the SS committed such acts 
of cruelty, and why should they have committed so many atrocities?' So once 
again the convenient: it won't have been quite as bad as that. In addition the 
bourgeois antipathy to Communism: Natsoc. made things more comfortable 
for Dr Dressel's social stratum ... [. . .] But we had not come to talk politics. The 
main thing, the blessed main thing was, that our things, a still quite inestimable 
quantity of linen, woollen clothes for E., silver plate, stamp collection were 
probably just as well preserved as the pile of ms. Probably: the Russians knocked 
random holes in the suitcases, pulled a lot of things out and - probably, that is, 
stuffed them all back in again. We didn't have time to check carefully, because 
we were supposed to drive back at half past four. But the car didn't come, we 
waited in ever greater despair and finally went to the station to catch the 8 
o'clock train to Reick, from where there is a tram. At 8.30 the train had still not 
arrived, instead we found out, that there is no tram from Reick after 8. Hence 
we could not reach Dolzschen before the curfew (11 p.m.) and had to return to 
the clinic. [. . .] Jung had meanwhile been to Annemarie's: the car had broken 
down completely, he himself had to spend the night in Pirna, he would pick us 
up at 8 o'clock next morning, that is today, in a lorry, which would take all our 
baggage. We slept on 2 sofas in our clothes, rather hungry and very disgruntled. 
Early in the morning I went down to the Elbe, to seek out Jung's company and 
office. A terrain of dreadful destruction [. . .], a new wooden bridge over the 
river, the stone railway bridge completely destroyed exactly in the middle. [. . .] 
Not a trace of Jung's company [...]. The lorry came no more than the car had 
done the day before, exasperated we took the train at 9.50 to Niedersedlitz, 
from there with trams 19 and 20 through the whole city to Lobtau, we arrived 
home worn out at half past twelve. Jung himself appeared later: the Russians 
had confiscated his lorry, one of four belonging to the company [...]. The Russians 


16 


The Lesser Evil 


as victors, the uncertainty of the situation: [. . .] there are power cuts for hours 
on end, [. . .] factory upon factory is being taken off to Poland and Russia. 

Even the most left-wing are beginning to be anxious. 

[...] 

And then the Vogel family 31 were here three times, and this afternoon I have 
already received father Vogel and son. Quite evidently as a result of denunciation 
and intrigues they have received an order, as Nazi Party members, to give up 
their shop by Monday morning. At their request I wrote a very warm letter of 
recommendation to Werner Lang, the president of the chamber of commerce, 
that he should have the evident mistake of subordinate and local officials 
checked, the Vogels were good men , and many people of the previous regime 
were still living a life of ease. [. . .] 

With Annemarie and Dressel, with the Schmidts, with the Vogels, recently 
with Dr Katz's receptionist: I sense everywhere the bourgeois antipathy to the 
unskilled workers and extremists of the KPD in the various local government 
offices. And in addition to that, there is now - also among the KPD workers 
themselves - the fear of complete impoverishment by the Russians, who are 
dragging off every piece of livestock and machinery. What will be the end of 
it?? 


30th June, Saturday ; towards evening 

Every free minute I have I work on the journey back, which I am fed up to the 
back teeth with and is becoming ever hazier. 

A small satisfaction of vanity: At the town hall a long queue is waiting for 
food ration cards, I have identification which allows me preferential treatment 
(as a Jew and because of my advanced years!) and am dealt with immediately. 
[. . .] Grohmann sent an attestation of the 'Department of Culture of the City 
of Dresden', which protects me from all nawying duty as 'one of the most 
prominent university professors' and for the sake of my work and the prep- 
aration for it. - But this satisfaction of vanity continues to be balanced by 
absolute uncertainty. The state government still does not exist. No position, no 
money. 

[. . .] The Wolfs are finally moving out today - they will go on taking care of 
our food and cooking [...]. How to repay them? They are poor devils, after all. 

Our cherry harvest is gradually turning into a catastrophe: the whole world 
is pleading and begging for a share, children romp through garden and house, 
we get no peace, hardly enough will remain for the Wolfs and ourselves to make 
jam. There's no end to the picking and excessive eating, on my part as well. 
This abundant cherry harvest - playing on all the senses, optically, acoustically 
etc. - will govern memories of the first month in Dolzschen. 

I don't get around to any reading, hardly even the newspaper, which [. . .] 
repeatedly prints the same one-sided Russian-biased reports. 

The day slips through my fingers. 

I am gaining a little insight into the petty power struggles and tensions of the 
miniature republic of Dolzschen. Today, Kalau, who is giving up direction of 


July 1945 


17 


labour duty in disgust, showed me documents about himself, which he had 
found in police files. He was originally an Independent Social Democrat, was 
compulsorily taken into the NSDAP and thrown out of it again because of 
behaviour which was subversive and hostile to the Party, also because he worked 
for a Jewish company and because he threw his membership card in a Party 
official's face with the remark: 'Pity it's not a hammer!' He was then under secret 
surveillance, regular reports on him had to be made to the Gestapo. (What 
organisation!) As a soldier he was declared 'unworthy to bear arms' by a court 
martial in Cherbourg and sentenced to 2\ years in a camp (which he served) for 
sabotage and destruction of important documents. Here in Dolzschen he is at 
odds with Scholz, the Communist pedant and very poor mayor (as Kalau and 
Wolf say). In particular there is the case of the judge, Richter, whose piano is 
now standing here and into whose house the Wolfs are moving. Scholz appears 
not to have acted energetically enough with respect to the confiscation, the 
judge has fled, but the son-in-law is still in the apartment and making life 
difficult for the Wolfs. I preach: Show no mercy to judges, they are just as guilty 
as SS and Gestapo. 


1st July , Sunday evening. Dolzschen 

Finished the journey back at last. Now tomorrow I want to see whether I can 
find out anything from Grohmann yet - 1 don't really believe I shall - and want 
at any rate to get at some library through him and perhaps also make contact 
with the TH. Also I am waiting day after day for the mss from Pirna. Simply 
getting to grips with my 18th Century 32 will also take a great deal of time and 
will take me a little into my former element again. Apart from that I am all the 
time waiting for Neidhardt. [. . .] 

Cherry picking, cherry eating, making cherry preserve, making cherry jam, 
baking cherry cake (Frau Wolf of course - the move has still not taken place) 
continue to be dominant. 

[...] 


2nd July ; Monday evening. Dolzschen 

In the morning at Melanchthonstr., all the way there on foot, bad heart trouble, 
once again horrible impression of destruction. [. . .] The Grohmann undertaking 
presented the same picture as on the first occasion, but the chaos had grown 
and the mood was much gloomier. I first of all spoke to the same secretary [...], 
then at length to Hirzel [...], one of Grohmann's assistants, I could also have 
talked to Gr. himself, but I'd had enough. Situation: everything is in flux. The 
state administration has still not been set up, the Russians have not given 
approval. Perhaps they'll give it tomorrow, perhaps in a few weeks, perhaps 
never. [. . .] There's a lack of money, a lack of everything, the Russians are not 
interested in anything here, whatever tempts them, they tear out and transplant 
to Russia. There is supposed to be a sitting next week, at which the city will 
concern itself with the TH, meanwhile no one even knows what still remains 


18 


The Lesser Evil 


there, what can be cranked up again, etc. etc. But if a state government of Saxony 
is set up and if it is the proposed Greater Saxony [. . .] then everything is up in the 
air again, and hardly very favourable to me. Because then, apart from the Dresden 
TH, Saxony has the universities of Leipzig, Halle and Jena and will find it impos- 
sible to maintain all these high schools and will perhaps have to concentrate 
on and limit itself to Leipzig. And with what will it then maintain Leipzig? The 
intelligentsia has skedaddled to the West [...]. Nothing at all can be done yet 
with respect to library matters. There is an administration of the State Library in 
Blasewitz - 1 passed close by the horribly burnt out and ruined Japanese Palace - 
and many of the library's treasures have been saved, but as yet it is impossible to 
get at the books, nor is any other library operating yet, and of course no one knows 
anything about the Romance Literatures Department at the TH. I had asked 
Grohmann for money. I am not a municipal employee, but must wait for the state 
administration. Meanwhile - curious fact! - two hundred marks from the surplus 
of an artists' fund, which Grohmann has at his disposal, were assigned to me. I 
received the money: 5 very new 20M notes, though from 1944 and bearing the 
swastika, and an ominous one-hundred-mark note of the 'Allied Military Author- 
ity'. What value can German money still have? 

None of that really depressed me and did not surprise me at all - 1 am infinitely 
sceptical and await events with a degree of apathy. I only worry about being 
able to work. Books are not to be had, and my mss, which could keep me busy 
for weeks to come, are still in Pima, for all Jung's promises. If, once again, they 
do not come tomorrow, I shall have to take the martyrdom of another journey 
to Pima upon myself. 


3rd July , Tuesday forenoon 

On the way back yesterday a slight gentleman with a little grey moustache 
called out my name very cordially, quite unfamiliar to me. Forgive me - with 
whom do I have the pleasure? - You don't recognise me? Menke-Gliickert 33 - 
You have become very thin. - I've lost more than 75 pounds ... he began to 
talk in the middle of the street; he was very bitter and depressed. Three of his 
sons had fallen, he is almost completely bombed-out, after he was dismissed, 
the Third Reich saddled him with disciplinary proceedings for giving preferential 
treatment to Jews, in the final years cut all his pensions, now all his legitimate 
claims, just like mine, are to the non-existent state administration, he has a 
large family and no means. In Ebert's time 34 M.-Gl. was counsellor at the 
ministry, in charge of secondary schools in Saxony, honorary professor at the 
TH, also, as far as I remember, for some time a deputy of the Democratic Party 
in the state parliament. Administratively he was my superior, and I received my 
instructions as a member of the examining board from him. For me he was 
always the powerful and benevolent 'Herr Geheimrat' [Privy Counsellor]. Yes- 
terday, during our conversation, that had all slipped my mind, perhaps because 
outwardly and inwardly he had so much dwindled (not shrivelled, his posture 
was good, like an officer of the Napoleonic army on half-pay [. . .]). I addressed 
him throughout as Herr Doktor, only afterwards did everything else come to 


July 1945 


19 


mind and weigh on my conscience. Why had his experience not yet been drawn 
on, surely he should have a place in a government of reconstruction? 'I've asked 
myself that, too, but so far no one has shown any interest in me!' This, quite 
evidently, was at the heart of his bitterness, it seemed to wound him more than 
the loss of his sons (he is supposed to have had a whole crowd of children) . . . 
Lives somewhere near Wehlen, comes into town only occasionally. I invited 
him to visit us, and we parted like two friends, suffering more or less the same 
fate . . . From him I also learned, that the Americans had evacuated Leipzig [...]. 
Yesterday, meanwhile, it was announced on the wireless that the Russians have 
occupied Leipzig and Weimar. Thus again and again: nothing is certain, no one 
knows what is happening and what will happen. 

But gradually, here and there, little tips of land are emerging from the Flood. 
Dr Hirzel [Grohmann's assistant] reported on the Windes. 35 They already knew 
from him, that we are here, they are alive, were bombed out and have suffered, 
are in Loschwitz (so virtually inaccessible). A Frau Kreisler 36 had also inquired 
after us at Annemarie's a little while ago, but Annemarie had not yet had any 
news of us then, and had meanwhile mislaid the woman's address. [. . .] 

The Vogel business is unpleasant and evidently typical. Vogel sen. was up 
here again for a long time yesterday evening, very agitated and always close to 
tears. His shop has been taken from him because he was a pg [...]. He was 
(briefly) protected by a sentry from Russian headquarters. He has taken my 
advice to do without this arbitrary protection and seek justice from German 
authorities. It appears, that he has been driven out by local intrigues in favour, 
not of a concentration-camp man, as is pretended, but of another pg. He had 
to spend many hours in Lang's waiting room before he could see an assistant 
or something similar, it looks as if an investigation of the affair will now get 
under way - but meanwhile Vogel's shop really is in someone else's hands since 
yesterday . . . And as [. . .] my warm commendation of the Vogels is very much 
involved, that may have unpleasant consequences for me. E.g. with respect to 
Frau Kl.'s heavy worker's ration card ... [. . .] 

Since yesterday evening we are without the Wolfs, it is now very hard for us 
to do the domestic chores, of which they had entirely relieved us, alone. It has 
been agreed, that we shall eat with them several times a week or that they will 
cook for us here (for payment 1M per head and lunch - we have now also paid 
them that for the past weeks). But despite this help, in terms of labour and 
supplies, we are nevertheless in a fairly difficult position. 


4th July, Wednesday forenoon 

The LTI lives on [...]. An anti-Fascist language office should be set up. - 
Analogies between Nazistic and Bolshevistic language: In Stalin's speeches, 
extracts of which regularly appear, Hitler and Ribbentrop are cannibals and 
monsters. In the articles about Stalin, the supreme commander of the Soviet 
Union is the most brilliant general of all times and the most brilliant of all men 
living. 

The surviving things from Pirna came yesterday afternoon. They had their 


20 


The Lesser Evil 


guardian angels: The Russians cut open and hacked at the suitcases, pulled out 
individual items and stuffed them back in again, nothing appears to be missing, 
unbelievable treasures, now absolutely priceless, woollen things, underwear, 
tablecloths, art works of Eva's have come to light. How very rich we were, if this 
represents only a tiny fraction, hardly one per cent of our former property . . . 
My huge stamp collection is there. We shall try to sell it. To me only land still 
has value as property, reference works of every kind, a car, a good wireless, these 
are the only things I would still like to have. 

Above all: the mss have been preserved. What an immense amount of work! 

I shall have to put it in order, I have to think what I shall knuckle down to 
first - when the universities start up again no longer seems so important to me, 

I have enough to do. I can now work my way back into the French things again, 
even if I cannot get hold of any books: there's enough material in the 18ieme 
and lecture notes (and in the work from 34 onwards - the German Image of 
France 37 - which is entirely finished). But for the moment everything is still 
restless and topsy-turvy: I pick up this or that, leaf through it, put it aside 
undecided, am at once depressed and happy - what of any of it shall I still see 
through to completion? 

Before I had finished these lines, the situation changed yet again. An hour 
ago it was announced on the wireless: The state administration has been 
appointed. Its seat is Dresden and Lord Mayor Friedrichs is now president of 
the whole of Saxony. But since, apart from the districts of Berlin and Meck- 
lenburg, only Saxony (and not Thuringia) is mentioned, it follows that it will 
be a Greater Saxony. Favourable to me?? I almost think, yes. Because after all I 
am now at the centre and at the source, have already been mentioned to the 
new master and am one of those, presumably one of the few, who has a claim 
to a senior university post. At any rate my prospects are much more favourable 
again today than yesterday. What should I do now? Wait and see? Act? 

If only my heart were in better condition, it coped well with the difficult 
months and now it makes itself felt if I walk ten paces. 

The wireless takes up a lot of time, but is very interesting. Although essentially 
only Berlin can be picked up, and only picked up clearly in the evening, and 
although sometimes there's only pleasant, often undemanding music. But the 
news from Berlin reveals in detail the dreadful disorder and the woefully difficult 
work of reconstruction. Train connections are announced, for example, that 
one can now already travel as far as Oranienburg twice a day, that on 'even 
days' a train goes almost as far as Magdeburg, that a goods train is already 
getting as far as Dresden etc. etc. A talk urgently advises Berliners to plant winter 
cabbage now, as nothing can be expected from the devastated province of 
Brandenburg and from further away nothing at all [. . .] etc — The Lord Mayor 
of the city of Brandenburg is urgently requested (on the wireless, because there 
is no post) to come to an important conference in Berlin. Every evening long 
lists are read out: Greetings from . . . that is, the name and address of people 
announcing themselves to family and friends as alive and present again. 


July 1945 


21 


9th July , Monday 

Hardly anything has changed since the last entry: I read my diaries at random, 
am very exhausted, walk little, we eat at the Wolfs', are very short of food, Eva 
does far too much work in the garden, planting vegetables, pulling up bushes 
(trees really), working with her is excessively exhausting for me. 

Yesterday the Jungs invited us for coffee, which was impossible to decline, it 
was very nice, but I found it a little awkward: the Jungs shower us with this and 
that, tea, artificial fertiliser etc. What impulse lies behind it, and how long will 
it last? In the evening Michel and his wife sat here for a long time. They, too, 
shower us with gifts and attention (tobacco, taking trouble over E.'s footwear - 
M. is in charge of the store in the Begerburg [. . .]), but M. invalided out of two 
world wars, home knitting machine worker, is undoubtedly sincere. [. . .] 


11th July ; Wednesday evening 

Yesterday the definitive awakening from the all-too-beautiful fairy tale. At first 
it still seemed to be continuing: 'The Lord Mayor of the City of Dresden requests 
the pleasure of the company of Herr and Frau Professor Dr Klemperer at the 
inauguration of the Provisional Stage of the Dresden Theatres on 10 July 1945 
in the Concert Hall, Glacisstr. Nathan the Wise 38 will be performed. Com- 
mencement 6 p.m.' That's delightfully flattering. Admittedly I felt Nathan to be 
presumptuous lack of tact, I would have preferred [Goethe's] Iphigenia. Then 
among the guests - about 600, it was invitation only - I had a really good, 
though not a VIP seat, E. could not come because of her bad foot, pity, it was a 
very good performance - to my very great astonishment and greeting me as if 
we had been sitting together for the last time only yesterday and this meeting 
was the most natural thing in the world, the Kuhn couple. 39 And beside me, 
completely grey, and taking it even more for granted, Janentzky. 40 And: Why 
don't you drop by and see us, we (we!) are discussing the re-establishment of 
the Cultural Sciences Section at a student hostel on Mommsenstr., and the 
Rudiger woman 41 was still there, and yesterday Grohmann had wanted to find 
out what was happening, but he wasn't in charge of course [. . .] ... Janentzky 
found it very strange, that I had some objection to these re-establishers. So 
evidently things are to go on just as they did after 1918: the enemies of the new 
regime are to be left quietly to continue with their work, which naturally will 
turn into work of subversion. Without mincing words I told J. my extremely 
divergent opinion, told him very clearly and frankly, and firmly refused to come 
before I had received precise information from the government regarding my 
position. The business made me feel very bitter, and after what I already heard 
from Grohmann and today have learned in greater detail from Winde, it looks 
very gloomy for me. Grohmann makes big promises, which he can't keep, has 
no real power, has no standing, knows nothing about the High School, is 
essentially limited to Dresden art and nothing else. [. . .] Then today I learned 
from Winde, that they really do want to leave Kuhn and Janentzky in their 
posts, and that they are the Ministry of Economics, to which, at the Russians' 
request, the TH is being subordinated - separation from the universities there- 


22 


The Lesser Evil 


fore. To what insignificance does that reduce me, to what merely tolerated 5th 
wheel, among what 'colleagues'! Yesterday and today I was at times seized by 
the desire to insist with all means at my disposal on the purging of the TH 
(which E. repeatedly encourages me to do), in between I was very much inclined 
to throw in the towel entirely, to stay in retirement and to complete my books 
(but how, since all resources are lacking?), at times I also told myself, the best 
thing was to hold on to my post mindlessly and silently for just another year - 
if it is given back to me at all - 1 constantly vacillate between these possibilities 
and their opportunities in the financial respect also. Neumark has invited me 
to consult with him on my monetary claims, I want to do so tomorrow, and 
that may lead to some clarity on other matters. But the fairy tale is over, and 
the professional disappointments of the 20s and 30s will be repeated, as if the 
monstrousness in between had not happened. I have become terribly pes- 
simistic, and Eva too, with regard to alteration of the German morass, to peace, 
to mankind altogether. All these beautiful phrases and vows from Germany, 
USA and Russia, I already heard it all in 1918. And then came the Freikorps 42 
and everything else at home and abroad, that finally led to catastrophe. And it 
will be no different this time. And is the language and truthfulness Stalinice so 
very unlike that Hitlerice? And if I really were able to publish now [. . .] would I 
be free to write what I wanted?? My kind of freedom! In short, the fairy tale is 
completely over and done with, and now I'm only calculating whether they 
will at least pay me enough for a modest living. Even that does not look likely. 

Frau Kreisler accosted me in the entrance-hall, a card was on its way to us, 
she and Frau Winde would visit us the next day. Immediately afterwards I made 
the acquaintance of Herr Winde, his wife had not come. The emergence of these 
people from the buried past - and these people also refers to the TH crowd - 
was the most important aspect of the afternoon for me. - I had to leave after 
the ring scene in the play, to catch my three trams before they shut down. [. . .] 
As I said, I found the choice of the Jewish play very unfortunate, although I was 
struck again, as many years ago, that it is not at all about the glorification of 
Jews or the Jew [...]. 


14th July , Saturday morning 

The Berger furniture business takes up too much time. What has been con- 
fiscated, what can he reclaim? [. . .] The claims are in large part blatant lies. I 
had to go to see Scholz in the overcrowded Housing Office [...]. Lengthy 
negotiation, Bergers, father and son, also present. Then for a whole morning 
the two of them fetched things from here. [. . .] The whole business disagreeable, 
filling me with very contradictory, extremely mixed feelings. [. . .] 

The whole afternoon yesterday agonisingly taken up with the trip to Neumark 
in Reickerstr. Discussion of my salary claim on the new state administration. 
[. . .] N. holds out very little hope [...]: There's no money and worse absolutely 
no sympathy for Jewish claims, nor any on the part of the Russians. I also talked 
to N. about the Kuhn affair and about my desires and doubts with respect to 
my post. He told me the latest news, that since Wednesday Menke-Gliickert had 


July 1945 


23 


been appointed to take charge of universities, I should talk to him. It had been 
quite a fight to push through M.-G. as a Democrat against a Communist. I: 
whether at the moment a Communist (clean out!) would not have been better? 
He: the KPD was doing too little for the universities, they would reject your 
salary claim as capitalist! 

As soon as one has anything to do with politics, one can only chose the lesser 
evil, it is impossible to make any pure decision. [. . .] 

The food shortage is becoming ever more catastrophic, the only thing we 
have in abundance is bread [...], but we live almost exclusively on dry bread. 
Fat and meat are almost entirely lacking, in fact entirely - misery of standing 
in queues - where to find the time. E. plants, E. has no shoes, E. has a bad foot - 
I seem to find it impossible to set aside a quiet hour to work in. [. . .] 

My nerves are much weakened, my feeling of happiness has been pushed 
very, very much into the background. 


15th July , Sunday morning 

Since yesterday the 22 - garlanded, red cloth with the words: 'Another step 
forward!' - has been running again, our best connection to town, as long as 
there is no 16. On the same day a card from Fraulein Mey: now the 22 is going 
again, she can visit me 'after High School'; she would come on Wednesday 
therefore. My relationship to the TH remains inwardly and outwardly unclear. 
Chorus with respect to everything and from everyone: Uncertainty, opacity of 
the situation. - Visits I make, and which I receive, eat me up. [. . .] Glasers here. 


16th July, Monday morning 

E says: before when a special delivery letter came, it was from the Gestapo. Now: 
'The Lord Mayor requests the pleasure . . .' He yet again requested 'by hand - 
urgent' the pleasure of our company the day before yesterday, inviting us in the 
evening to the first concert of the Staatskapelle in the Buhlau Assembly Rooms. - 
Very flattering - but the journey there! Then again: one has to show one's face, 
one has to talk to people, has to become involved or stay involved ... At first it 
appeared, that it would be just as impossible for E. to come as to the Nathan 
recently. She literally has no shoes, her only pair has had a broken heel since 
13 February, her foot is raw [...]. A cobbler is not to be found. Now yesterday 
Frau Wolff [sic] found a pair of shoes of her mother-in-law, and Frau Steininger 
also unearthed a pair - both pairs size 38 instead of 36 - but wearable. 

I visited Steininger in Hohe Str. to inspect his biographical archive. A com- 
pletely bombed-out, but not burnt-out house not far from the Plauenschen 
Ring. Boxes, folder, envelopes: About l\ million newspaper cuttings, filed and 
unfiled, on x topics. Partly in a garage, which rainwater can easily get into, 
partly crumpled, full of dust and mortar, everything chaotic and in danger, 
partly in f destroyed rooms. Like something from a film. A miracle, that the 
stuff was saved - but it is only saved, if it can quickly be stored more safely and 


24 


The Lesser Evil 


re-ordered. [. . .] Request to Scholz, supported by me, for storage and work space 
for St. At the same time I ask myself [. . .], whether all of it does have any great 
scholarly value. On the one hand: yes, very great and especially now. On the 
other hand, it's all too fragmentary, superficial, jumbled up, and only valuable 
as a pointer to more substantial material - which is just what's missing. 

[. . .] Now every Nat. Soc. book has to be handed over by today on pain of 
heavy punishment. A list of the forbidden things - I have not yet seen it - has 
appeared. I myself collect them for the IT/, have already obtained this and that 
from Forbrig. I shall procure a special permit. 

[...] 

I am so very tired and so very lazy and so very easily distracted. My inwardly 
ever-repeated motto: 'I shall make use of it, this brief span/ But I don't make 
use of it. I lie on the ugly fauteuil in the hall, look out at the greenery, at 
my garden and let the wireless play on. Idiotic music, beautiful music, news 
characteristic of the times. One box of matches has been distributed to every 
Berlin household every evening (programme: 'Greetings') a list of names 
and addresses of returnees is broadcast, etc. etc. 


17th July , Tuesday morning 

Tremendous heat, more than 30 in the shade, so we didn't go to the celebratory 
concert in more than uncomfortable Buhlau yesterday. See and be seen, be 
involved?? I am a little apathetic and disgusted. Grohmann is an impotent 
wind-bag, my real post still non-existent. 

Glaser, happy to have got a position in the Ministry of Justice (otherwise very 
decrepit and senile) told me, all my claims (notified through Neumark) were up 
in the air: the new state, which is no state at all and [. . .] does not need to 
recognise claims on the preceding regime. My objection, that the Allies had 
declared themselves upholders of Jewish compensation claims, was mockingly 
rejected as lacking any legal force. I am reading my diaries without making 
notes, only blue pencil crosses. I cannot get a grip on the difficulties, find a 
solution to them. What is too intimate, what too general? How should LTI and 
vita be separated? Who should be mentioned by name? How should I comment 
on what I wrote then? How far diverge from the diary form?? For weeks now I 
have done nothing else but read the diary. I feel very empty. 

[...] 

I have to tell myself a little too often: you are in Paradise now, compared to 
the previous situation. It is so, but I notice it all too rarely - E.'s loss of weight, 
the never-ending dry bread, the chaos in the house, the uncertainty of my 
position, my sterility, exhaustion and heart problems: there are a little too many 
weeds growing in the Paradise Garden. Nevertheless, we are living in it, and 
there is some hope of weeding it. This spun out metaphor is none at all for E., 
but reality, she works all day in the garden, mainly planting vegetables, there is 
nothing , literally nothing else she is interested in, except the garden. Pereat 
mundus, fiat hortus. 43 


July 1945 


25 


18th July , Wednesday morning. Dolzschen 

This afternoon at 4 'Installation of the [Saxon] administration' - I am invited 
(a very inconvenient time, because that's when the Mey woman is supposed 
to come to see me and it's too late to cancel her) - thus the new life appears 
to be assuming solid shape, thus the diary can also become a solid book 
again. 44 - Sounds nice, but isn't true at all. Nothing is solid, everything is in 
a chaotic fluid state, Germany's, Saxony's, Dolzschen's, my affairs - absolutely 
everything. 

Yesterday Scholz [. . .] was here. I want to get him and through him his 
KPD to take a keen interest in Kuhn, in teachers altogether, since Forbrig 
complains very bitterly to me about recruitment of pg's. Scholz very insipid: 
democratic line, don't rush anything, the Party slogan. Then it slips out: 
People have to starve a little first. First came Kerensky, after that Lenin ... I 
recently heard something very similar - from whom?? - with reference to 
the Russians: politically they were not putting any pressure on the Germans, 
less than the USA at least; they were only removing livestock and factories. 
First people had to starve in Germany, then it would just go Bolshevik of its 
own accord. 

There's a nice hairdresser running around here, a Hungarian, in the anti- 
Fascist comite, recently cut Eva's hair, is going to get a tomcat for us. This 
Hungarian yesterday: the Russians are letting us starve, very pessimistic. He 
wants to go back to Hungary, the Jews would build things up there. Yes, if the 
Jews wanted to take a hand here, the Jews knew how to do it, then there would 
be commerce, wages and life again! [. . .] 

I am so helpless in the face of the immense material of my diaries, that I ask 
myself, what is the point in piling up more? But it is always foolish to ask what 
the point is. 


19th July, Thursday morning 

The tram didn't come - so I decided not to go to the state administration 
ceremony and came back again. I would anyway have learned only jelly-like 
things again and heard the usual phrase-mongering. 

The Mey woman was here from late afternoon and into the evening. 
Unchanged, yet almost 60. 1 was not very warm and spelled out my attitude to 
my former colleagues. Important points of Mey's report: Holldack dead, Kafka 
seriously ill, will 'not be involved any more'. Gehrig willing, however. 45 The 
Romance languages library completely destroyed. [. . .] No one knows what will 
become of the TH. At the moment a Lieutenant-Colonel Koslovich was in 
charge and also had his quarters there. Rubble was being cleared, lists were 
being drawn up of professorships, lecture courses, dissertations of the last ten 
years. Sudden commands were received, one knew nada, nada. 

[...] 

The very poor condition of my heart naturally makes everything seem even 
more gloomy than it already is. 


26 


The Lesser Evil 


20th July , Friday morning 

Yesterday, 19 July, the Hungarian brought the longed-for tomcat which had 
been promised for some time. I don't need to note all the bitter feelings this 
arouses in me. The question of feeding is not an atom easier than it was in 
Mujel's time. 46 The new one, white with grey patches, is unfortunately already 
a year old and used to complete freedom. He comes from the Moritzburg area, 
is called Moritz and will probably be called Moische. - I owe Eva the house and 
the tomcat. 

On the wireless yesterday between cabaret turns a bit of live transmission 
from the first service of the first synagogue [to re-open] in Berlin: a 74-year-old 
cantor sings the Hebrew blessing of consecration as the eternal lamp is lit. The 
announcer informs the listeners about it, we hear the singing and the praying 
congregation. - Frightful, for a start because it is tasteless amidst all the amuse- 
ments, de- not consecration, and then even more frightful as accentuation of 
the Jewish victory. It lends support to the assailed Natsoc. 

The same is true of a talk about the German General Staff as the brains of 
German militarism, it is guilty and must be destroyed. There are Russian sentries 
everywhere, the Russians are driving off the livestock, there is hunger, already 
one can hear: at least under Hitler everyone got what was promised on the 
ration coupons [...]. The development of a counter-current is inevitable: we are 
hungry, the Jews are here again, the Russians are here - these are the blessings 
of pacifism - 1 also shudder at the military and other triumphalism in Berlin and 
at the constant kowtowing and confessions of guilt of the Berlin broadcasting 
station. - And while opinion is virtually being stirred up for Natsoc., nothing is 
being done, at least here in Dresden, to really dislodge it. 

I see the situation in a very gloomy light. All the previous mistakes are 
being repeated and in increased measure. Enemies are reviled and then left 
in possession of some things. One-sided pacifism is preached at the same 
time as the enemy expands his power. The title 'Jews' Republic' is virtually 
invited again. And with all of that there is more hunger every day. Hour by 
hour the great progress made is praised on the wireless, the benevolence of 
the Allies is praised and both are only partly true, and each person feels this 
'only partly'. - And the populace is so irretrievably stupid and forgetful. Now 
it thinks only: 'we were not so hungry before', and everything else is 
forgotten. Very soon it will think: all these Hitler horrors are propaganda 
inventions. 

Admittedly I have no better programme to set against this critique. Hopeless 
situation. 

Childish, but it's true: what affected me most in Mey's reports was the age of 
my former colleagues: they, too, are now about 60 - 1 am not the only one who 
has grown old. (In my memory the others remained young.) 

I am so helpless in the face of the great bulk of my diaries, that I cannot make 
up my mind to continue with the same expansiveness. Also, everything appears 
to me to be repetition: hunger, the wretchedness of everyday concerns (10 g 
butter more or less), the errors of the rulers, my heart problems, my most recent 
and most trivial thoughts on death, my mixed feelings with respect to the 


July 1945 


27 


tomcat and Eva's love of animals etc. etc. - 1 have grown too old, and everything 
has already happened once before. 


21st July, Saturday morning 

[...] 

Very slow and helpless progress in reading the diary. There appears to be no 
way of getting to grips with Curriculum, 47 LTI or publication for Neidhardt. 
Everything is at a standstill, everything is undecided, hie et ubique. 48 Time 
trickles away in the heat, with heart problems and dry bread - and yet pleasantly 
drowsy with a lot of wireless. 

Berlin Conference of the 'three great powers'. 49 Always the 'Big Three', always 
the three great powers. France is played out just like Italy. [. . .] 

Jung said: 'The Russians are hauling away our machines, the Americans simply 
blow them up. This blowing up was new to me. So they want to destroy German 
industry for good. The Russians taking away the railway tracks fits in with that. 
The result must be unemployment. [. . .] I used to believe there would be no 
unemployment after this war, after all everything would need to be replaced. But 
if they simply don't allow new production? The present mobilisation of labour 
is only to clear away rubble and for the harvest - it won't produce anything 
durable. From day to day I see the future in a gloomier light. 

Then in the evening Jung put me on the spot with a request. There was now 
a 'declaration of nullity' for those who had been forced to join the Party. But 
this route could only be taken via the KPD. [. . .] What sort of man was Scholz, 
could I help? I do not feel very comfortable about the business, neither out- 
wardly nor inwardly. To the outside: I do not want my signature to be devalued, 
do not want to be seen in general as a friend of Nazis. It may also all too easily 
be said: he can be bribed. And this is where the inner resistance starts. Do I have 
a clear conscience with respect to Jung? E. always liked him - I did not. He 
avoided me, was very cautious at least. And now we are very much courted. 
Trip to Pirna etc., invitation for coffee, and recently even the expensive blue 
suiting. It was to be 'lent' me for nothing at all, I pressed 100M on the wife - 
which under today's circumstances, of course, is not a real payment at all. Have 
I been bribed? Inwardly I do not feel entirely free. I told Jung: Go to Scholz, 
whom I consider to be a humane man, explain your situation. Refer to me, 
insofar as I knew you in the years 1934-40 as a friendly and by no means hostile 
Nazi neighbour, which I can confirm. But the confirmation is only of any 
value with the double qualification of the date and of knowing you outside 
professional circumstances. Thus qualified, I can also put it in writing, but 
perhaps that isn't even necessary . . . 

As I said, I don't feel very happy about it. Vogel, Steininger, perhaps Lehmann 50 
at the TH: it adds up. 

[...] 

I am increasingly strengthened in my own contempt for mankind and my 
lack of vanity. I was treated as lower than a dog, now I am courted by every 
means - what will tomorrow bring? And contempt and esteem are nothing at 


28 


The Lesser Evil 


all to do with me as a person, but only with me as an atom or particle or billiard 
ball - these things are not valuable or valueless in themselves, rather their force 
is dependent on their particular situation. 


23rd July , Monday morning 

On Saturday a very cordial letter arrived from Wengler: 51 since April '41 he had 
been employed in the Wilhelm Nestler 52 Bookshop, Bautzenerstr., and married 
since June of this year, he would visit us on Sunday with his wife. [. . .] 

Wengler looks considerably aged, with a curiously protruding and twisted 
lower lip. He already had a stroke a good dozen years ago. - He is very erudite, 
lOOOx more of a philologist than I am, yet without scholarly ambition. He 
seemed reconciled to his situation, content, although he is only an assistant - the 
3rd Reich did not allow him to qualify as a bookseller because of 'unreliability'. 

[...] 

Yesterday evening [. . .] I suddenly felt the most thorough-going aversion and 
absolute saturation with respect to LTI. Decision not to pursue any further study 
of it (as I had originally planned). I shall do the Notebook of a Philologist, using 
the material available, either as a little book on its own or amalgamated with 
the Curriculum of this period or as the second part of the publication given to 
Neidhardt. For the time being I must patiently continue skimming through the 
diaries for weeks, with only the blue pencil, and wait for inspiration and also on 
the development of the general situation and my particular position. - Wengler 
reported that the Romance languages library at Leipzig had also been completely 
destroyed by fire, and in his bookshop there were only a very few second-hand 
items. On the other hand he himself has my works. - Early this morning it 
occurred to me: obtain a Swiss scholarship, in order to be able to prepare the 
completion of my 18ieme in Geneval At the moment 1 am very much attracted 
by everything French, I have had a surfeit of Hitlerism. 


24th July, Tuesday evening 

Very poor health: serious heart problems on the smallest errand, trouble- 
someness of the injured foot, which refuses to heal, torment of dental treatment 
with Dr Konig, painfully inflamed eyes and neck, but above all and again and 
again the memento of the angina problems. I dread every errand, at home I 
fight constant lethargy. [. . .] 

We have had no fat for weeks - what good are the heavy workers' cards? I 
asked the old Vogels - living up at the Pfeifers' - if one was any better off 
registering at Chemnitzerplatz. - No, there were no deliveries at all to Dresden. 
Fear of famine, mood towards the Russians very bad. Foolish opinion, things 
better with the 'Yanks', foolish rumours, the 'Yanks' were going to come here 
after all. [. . .] 

The food shortage is extreme for us and for everyone - 90% of what we live 
on is dry bread, which fortunately we have in abundance - and the populace 
blames the Russians. [...]! no longer wish to write in detail about our own food 


July 1945 


29 


plight, because as I plough through the diaries, I can see how for years I have 
been repeatedly writing variations on this theme. What's odd this time, is that 
we have bread in plenty - but even less of everything else, above all of fat, than 
in the worst times. Poor Eva. 


26th July , Thursday morning 

If I die now, and my heart is rotten enough for that, I'll get a fine wake. Everyone 
here knows me, greets me in the street and at home, expresses pleasure at our 
return. What percentage of that is warmth and what calculation? I shall always 
be suspicious now. - Yesterday we were visited by Frau Ulbrich, the wife, now 
widow, of Ulbrich the butcher, whose good customers we were, until he passed 
on the shop to the young Janiks because of illness. (Frau Janik already spoke to 
me during the first few days, she is hoping for her husband to return and for 
her shop to re-open - with her a large percentage of warmth is involved.) Frau 
U., after many losses very evidently still wealthy, an elderly, good-natured, calm 
woman, brought flowers and cigarettes, was happy for us, was nothing but an 
old friend. But then her son did turn up in the conversation, who had survived 
6 years in the army, and is a technical school teacher. 'But he is very much 
needed, he will surely get his post back immediately!' - 'Yes, Professor, but he 
was in the club (sic), he had to, after all, and now he's nawying.' There it was. 
Not a plea to me, but one nevertheless. [. . .] 'but I have never seen or spoken to 
your son.' - 'But you know his parents, and we never . . .' Etc. etc. [. . .] 

When I fetched E.'s shoes from the cobbler - he had repaired them for the 
sake of old friendship, E. was for weeks walking around literally in felt slippers 
without stockings - Schulz, Neidhardt's technical and business partner, jumped 
from his bicycle at the bottom of the hill; we arranged that he would call in the 
late afternoon. Afterwards I found the Kornblums, mother and daughter, at 
home, whom I speedily got rid of [. . .] Vogel sen. also had to be greeted and 
thanked: he brought razor blades from his own stock, and potatoes from the 
Pfeifers, the landowners, with whom he is staying. The late Pfeifer was a farmer, 
who owned very valuable property up here - we negotiated with him in 1933. 
His ladies - I don't properly know the family, but there are real ladies there - 
are friendly to us in a quite disinterested way. 

So, later on Schulz came. Some kind of disagreement with the newly appointed 
department head in the Land administration. But the Fackelverlag publishing 
house, delayed and obstructed, remains. The official wants a sample. I am to 
provide it. [. . .] For the present: I am working towards an opus, of which I myself 
do not know what shape it is going to take. Diary and LTI are inseparable, I want 
to make one volume out of them, but how? [. . .] Schulz makes a good impression, 
he is evidently really both engineer and businessman, was a senior employee or 
representative of an American typewriter factory, wanted to take a master's 
exam as a technician and failed because he was 'politically unreliable' [...]. In 
the course of today I want to force myself to undertake an experiment: I want 
to write a kind of fair preface to my Diary +L77 book; perhaps some possible 
form of organisation will occur to me as I do so. - Like me, Schulz feels altogether 


30 


The Lesser Evil 


uncertain about the KPD as well as dependent on it. It has to clean out; but it 
lacks intellectual members, and what will be its attitude to intellectuals and 
others with an education? The fateful question for it and for us. I do not want 
to take a decision in accordance with my - vacillating - emotions, not out of 
pure idealism, but coolly and calculatingly in accordance with what is best for 
my situation, my freedom, the work I still have to do, and yet nevertheless serving 
my ideal task, back the right horse. Which is the right horse? The roundabout 
with the petits chevaux 53 still keeps on turning. Russia? USA? Democracy? 
Communism? Professor emeritus? Unpolitical? Politically committed? Question 
mark upon question mark. But perhaps I already took up a position, when I 
made my opposition to Kuhn apparent. [. . .] 

Evening 

Professor Winde was here this morning. He, too, bitter at the general lack of 
thoroughgoing measures. He related: Johst, the very Nazi rector of the TH, good 
architect (I was acquainted with him 33-35), earned huge sums under the 3rd 
Reich, was also simultaneously rector of Linz TH, where he was supposed to 
build a university, and owns a magnificent villa on the Weisser Hirsch. He was 
supposed to relinquish it and move somewhere more cramped. He managed to 
keep the villa for himself and get a contract from the city of Dresden to build 
mini-apartments. The present rector, Hahn, confirmed in office by the Russians, 
was a battalion commander in the Volkssturm. - Winde said: a general levy was 
now being demanded of us, a kind of continuation of the Natsoc. Winter Aid 
programme. From us, who have been bombed out! Why don't they confiscate 
Nazi assets? - 1: We have to join the KPD. - He: Only recently you called yourself 
a democrat! - I: Yes, but the KPD is needed! 


27th July , Friday morning 

On the wireless constant appeals to help bring in the harvest. In a different 
tone from the 3rd Reich. Always the dark emphasis on impending starvation. 
Starvation is not a threat - it is really here. For weeks neither we nor anyone 
else have had any fat, meat, hardly any food coupons at all redeemed. Always 
the misery of destruction and plundering [...]. 

Announced on the wireless: In England (391 out of 640 seats) the Labour 
Party governing alone for the first time, Attlee Churchill's successor. For the first 
time 23 women (21 Labour Party) in parliament. 

All the strain of these days: the wireless tells us what is happening at every 
moment in all the world, far away - and there is no postal link with Leipzig. 


30th July , Monday forenoon 

I have just corrected the LTI introduction, almost 7 closely typed pages, which 
I have worked on from Thursday until yesterday evening. Beginning and middle 
are good, the end loses itself in pure philology -LTI and diary are simply neither 


July 1945 


31 


completely compatible with one another nor can they be cleanly separated. 
Furthermore, in the final pages, on which I worked hard yesterday, my mood 
was thoroughly spoilt. This introduction was intended to be the sample piece, 
for which Schulz had asked, and with which the reluctant government depart- 
ment was to be won over. Schulz and Neidhardt were supposed to come here 
on Sunday morning for the final discussion of my contract. I had made con- 
siderable and successful efforts to finish the piece, as far as was possible, by 
then, I wanted to read it to the two of them. They did not come, and so now 
the whole business is up in the air again. [. . .] 

In the afternoon we were supposed to be at the Windes'; my foot, on which 
the minor injury, really only an abrasion, has refused to heal for many weeks 
now and hurts, was swollen. In a triumphal mood I would nevertheless have 
gone. In my depression I cried off. Eva went alone, and in the silence of the 
afternoon I then managed the rest of the introduction. But if the book planned 
for Neidhardt does not materialise, it's of no use. 

On Sunday morning the wireless [. . .] regularly broadcasts a Protestant church 
service with ringing of bells, choir, sermon. Yesterday there spoke in a sonorous 
voice, but quite without affectation and unctuousness, the Protestant bishop of 
Berlin [. . .] Dibelius. 54 At first I was very pleasantly enthralled. Paul to the 
Athenians, that is, as if he were speaking to cultivated people in Weimar today. 
How can he convey his tidings to the educated, the philosophers? They are not 
at all intractable atheists, they are seekers after God, they know of the unknown 
God. But that is simply not sufficient. One must find HIM, one must come to 
know him, one must have certainty, one would so like to have it. But how? - 
And now came the disappointment, which always comes, if one entrusts oneself 
to pastors. One must just 'change one's ways', one must see Jesus, for Jesus is 
the side of God turned towards man, the knowable side. So now I know exactly 
and may believe in the loving kindness of the Heavenly Father despite all the 
ghastliness of these last years. Every day it becomes more puzzling to me, how 
people can believe in a kind, loving God etc. I more than ever want to leave the 
Church, which so shamefully let me down. 

Yesterday the Felix Neubert couple came to see us, the people with the 
butcher's shop in Plauenschen Gasse, whose customers we were when we lived 
at 8 Hohe Strasse. Good men. The wife had already, by chance, spoken to me in 
the city during the first few days. Bombed out, without their own shop. Now 
the man has been offered a butcher's in Freital - the trade inspectorate there is 
causing problems - perhaps Herr Professor can help. (I recently heard from 
Winde the joke from the end of the Hitler times: Whoever recruits 10 members 
for the Party, can leave it, whoever recruits 20, gets a J in his identity card! In 
any case Neubert - always the first question! - was not a pg.) By chance I really 
was able to help. Frau Wolff's father is an important and influential KPD official 
in Freital. [. . .] 

Yesterday a little boy, perhaps 12, 14 years old, rang at the door: 'Refugee - 
have you got something to eat?' I said: 'Unfortunately we have nothing.' My 
conscience was not quite clear - I should have given the boy a piece of dry 
bread. I thought of the woman in the Munich old people's home, who sys- 


32 


The Lesser Evil 


tematically sent out her children to beg. But apart from dry bread we ourselves 
have nothing to spare [...]. 


1st August, Wednesday 

A letter from Leipzig, dated 3 July, arrived on Monday, 30 July, with a Dresden 
postmark (that is, posted here by a tardy visitor). Trude Ohlmann: 55 hoping that 
we were still alive, without a clue that for 5 years we had not been in our house. 
She herself is still living at 10 Bussestr., we had believed this house, this street 
destroyed long ago. She had been through terrible things, she would tell us as 
soon as she knew whether her letter had reached us. She signed it: 'Your deeply 
unhappy Trude/ How to send a reply? 

[...] 

Yesterday the widow of Master Haubold was here, a grey-haired woman, 
careworn, depressed. Her situation: her husband had lost his customers, because 
the rulers in Dolzschen - Kalix, Sonntag - had called him the 'red plumber' and 
because he had resisted them. To save him or the business she then joined the 
Party, and that did help. Of two sons, both plumbers, one (the present master 
here) remained outside the Party, the other (in the army, somewhere in Bavaria, 
whereabouts unknown, his wife and child died on 13th February) became a pg. 
Now the young master was being urged to join the KPD, she, Frau H., was 
advising him not to - it was impossible to know if everything would stay as it 
was. After all, it was constantly being said, that the Americans would come 
here! - Treading warily I said: I myself had never been a Communist, but now 
a general clean-out was necessary. I, too, would much prefer to stay away from 
politics, not join a party - but if pressure was being placed on her son, then the 
Communists were a party and not criminals; and originally SPD - old Haubold 
was an SPD man - and KPD had been one party [. . .] and they must become one 
party again, with a right and a left wing [...]. I added: the Americans were no 
better than the Russians, worse, rather, and they would not come to Dresden 
and wage war with the Russians and still less would they do so in alliance with 
Germany. 

These rumours America against Russia don't stop. Nazi propaganda still has 
an effect, is probably still being secretly carried on. Is Dresden especially petit 
bourgeois, especially Nazi - or is the whole of Germany like this? 

I can state to the minute the point at which my bliss turned into the opposite 
[...]: when I saw Kuhn at the official performance of Nathan and sat next to 
Janentzky. Since then my depression has got steadily worse, exacerbated by 
physical things - 1 am tortured by my teeth, I am hampered by my foot, which 
refuses to heal, I am worried by my very palpable heart, I am depressed by the 
chaos in our domestic affairs, to which there is no solution, and which harnesses 
me to domestic chores, I am tormented by my eternal tiredness. The principal 
calamity, nevertheless, is that no one is interested in me professionally: I hear 
nothing from Menke-Gluckert, nothing from the TH, nothing from Neidhardt. 

[...] 

Daily questions to myself, no, hourly ones: what is the point of this diary 


August 1945 


33 


reading? Is the wireless more a stimulus or more a waste of time? Why do 
German affairs look rosy on the wireless, at least 100 times rosier than in reality? 
(It doesn't really lie, but it reports only and exclusively the snail's pace progress 
of reconstruction. And then: I am too old; I have heard all these promises, plans 
etc. etc. in 1919 , and - mutatis mutandis - in 1933 as well. 


2nd August , Thursday morning 

The Berlin 'Deutsche Volkszeitung' (KPD) [. . .] of 28 July, prints the programme 
of Wilmersdorf People's High School, 56 and announced there: Dr Linfert: The 
Style of NS language. My LTI in other words. I should have expected it. [. . .] 
But this morning I want to go to Nestler- Wengler. Perhaps I, too, shall first 
present my LTI as lectures at the People's High School here. 

Frau Dember, 57 when she was here from Istanbul, stayed in the villa of the 
wealthy Jew (and Czech) Kussi. We visited her there once and were given a very 
friendly welcome. Two gentlemen, in their mid-30s, came into the room and 
exchanged a few words with us. That was all the contact we had. Of faces I 
vaguely see white-bearded Kussi pere, whom I once met at Isakowitz, the dentist. 
Then we heard: the father had died in a Berlin hospital, the sons, racing to his 
deathbed, had been involved in a serious car accident, but had escaped with 
the loss of a few teeth. That is all I know about the Kussi family. The Dembers 
spoke with the greatest respect of their Rheostat (? electrical instruments of 
some kind) factory and of their wealth. - Now yesterday a letter signed: '. . . in 
old friendship your very devoted Dr W. Kussi' 58 on the company notepaper of 
Rheostat-Habege(??) - an Aryan name in the letterhead has been crossed out 
and replaced by 'Dr Werner Kussi'. K. writes: '. . . After several years spent in 
various concentration camps, I have finally returned here from Auschwitz. My 
family was murdered in Auschwitz . . .' [. . .] He has by chance heard of our 
return [. . .] the letter is dated 16 July, postmarked the 31st - wants to visit us. 
Curious the mixture of dubious business German and dreadful private content. 
Noteworthy the 'in old friendship'. Does he clutch at survivors of those days? 


3rd August , Friday morning 

[...] 

Yesterday morning at Nestler's shop on Bautzenerstr. Nestler himself absent. 
Wengler very helpful. In the shop at the front the scantiest stock, a couple of 
slim army editions, a couple of music notebooks, stationery. A few second-hand 
things. Behind the shop a big room as office, a kitchen, in which there was 
cooking going on. Several women and young people busy. All very, very meagre, 
the French things I was shown were nothing [...]. I borrowed the dictionary I 
was offered [...]. I discussed the LTI possibilities with Wengler. Perhaps one 
lecture or two for the 'preview' of the People's High School. But nothing definite 
[...]. 

Meanwhile continued very slow reading of diary, everything uncertain, tooth 
and dentist torment. But basically not despairing. Everything is going just as 


34 


The Lesser Evil 


slowly and falteringly for everyone : that is the general German condition in the 
summer of 45. Today the Potsdam communique 59 is on the wireless: peace 
treaties with the others, peace settlement with us. 

At the bookshop I was able to write a couple of lines to Trude Ohlmann: The 
boss' is travelling to L. today and will take it with him for the city post there. 
[. . .] The first letter from Leipzig to Dresden has arrived. But on the tram I heard 
that there is not yet any post from Dresden-Leipzig. [. . .] 


4th August ; Saturday forenoon 

In the morning the Potsdam communique was read out on the wireless. Shat- 
tering, quite egoistically shattering. Germany will be so castrated, so poor, such 
an outcast, that we two will never get on our feet again. The dry bread, no fat, 
on which we have been living literally for weeks, will accompany us for the rest 
of our lives. Who is going to pay for my demands, my losses? (Nothing in the 
communique suggests that the Allies want to look after the German Jews.) I 
shall get a tiny salary or old-age pension, that will be all. Professor at the TH or 
the university? At most a junior instructor at Dresden Technical School. Publish 
books and in journals?? Everything will be lacking, publishers, printing presses 
etc. etc. Shrunken little Germany will be a pitiful agrarian state without inde- 
pendence, without any possibility of recovery. 

I continue muddling along with my diary reading. [. . .] 

The dentist continues to torment me, my heart problems continue to torment 
me, my eye problems too. Despite that: up here there is peace, and between 
diary, wireless, a nice volume from the library left behind by the Bergers, 
sleeping, and the most frugal meals, at home and with the Wolffs, together with 
a few domestic chores, one can doze quite nicely through the evening of one's 
life. 


6th August , Monday evening 

Great heat, great weariness, constant heart problems when walking - I must go 
to Katz, perhaps iodine will help. 

[...] 

Today exhausting, not quite unfruitful trip into town. 1) at Nestler's - ('the 
boss' in Leipzig - the boss is chairman of the new People's High School) - with 
Wengler, who took notes of what I said and will work it up, agreed the following, 
a) I shall speak at a 'preview' in September for about 90-120 minutes about the 
basic outlines of the LTI - I found it odd, when Wengler used the term LTI 
quite as if it were the most natural thing - and will then give a winter course of 
8 hours on the details. [. . .] b) In the winter I shall give 8 one-hour lectures on 
the German image of France from the beginnings to the present. - Wengler 
gave me a statement he had composed on the reorganisation of modern lan- 
guage teaching 'in a free, democratic and anti-Fascist Germany'. With extreme 
agitational brusqueness he demands the combined study of language, literature 


August 1945 


35 


and culture without 'suicidal arrogance'. 'It is proper for us, above all, to show 
modesty in the face of the achievement of others and to openly confess our 
own deficiencies, which is a debt we owe thanks to our own presumption.' He 
wants compulsory teaching of Russian and American; second, more as an 
optional subject, and only where local conditions make it necessary, the (minor) 
Slav and the Romance languages. French is not even listed separately. [. . .] 

I then went to Melanchthonstr., arranged [. . .] an appointment with 
Grohmann for Wed. The well-informed secretary in response to my questions: 
Grohmann - 'patrician' Communist [. . .] was now also involved in the state 
administration, was to some extent more important than Menke-Gluckert, 
'could not be pinned down'. But everything was uncertain, and the Russians 
repeatedly interfered, issued prohibitions, there was no progress. The secondary 
schools were ready to start, there came a veto from the Russians. Barracks had 
been made available to some artists: the Russians requisitioned the barracks. 
Etc. etc. The TH was M.-Gl.'s responsibility, but was ruled by a Russian lieu- 
tenant-colonel and Rector Hahn, and Janentzky was doing a lot (with whom??). 
Fraulein von Rudiger had been dismissed. (So there my protest to Janentzky was 
effective.) I set forth the Kuhn case. - In Leipzig, at the Americans' suggestion, 
the majority of professors had gladly departed with the former (!!) - no one had 
any idea what should happen there. - Now I shall see how things continue on 
Wednesday At some point I want to 'join in' myself. It is probably not too late 
for anything. 


8th August, Wednesday morning 

Yesterday night and day so wretched (probably influenza? a slight temperature), 
that I was completely slowed down, slept a lot. 

My diary reading shows ever more clearly, that LTI is substantially more 
suitable for publication than the actual diary. It is shapeless, it incriminates the 
Jews, also it could not be reconciled with the opinions that predominate now, 
it would also be indiscreet. 

[.••] 

From the Potsdam communique, which is still being praised on the wireless 
as humane beyond all expectation, while the amputation of the eastern German 
provinces is passed over in silence, it should really be obvious, that not Russia 
alone, but that all the Allies together are making Germany 'suffer'. 

For myself I face a constant dilemma. I want to be on the furthest left wing 
of the KPD, I want to be for Russia. And on the other hand: My kind of freedom! 

Today the wireless is full of the atom bomb, which was mentioned for the first 
time yesterday . 60 


9th August, Thursday morning 

Yesterday forenoon with Grohmann: today forenoon I am to meet him at the 
state administration building, we will talk with M.-Gl., he wants to introduce 


36 


The Lesser Evil 


me to Friedrichs. M.-Gl. is too reactionary for him, 'wants to open the old TH', 
has to be pushed, is too old. Gr. wants to influence Friedrichs through me. Gr. 
is very opposed to Kuhn. This 'curious gentleman' gave Nazi lectures. I cautiously 
said, referring to M.-Gl., he felt bitter. Gr.: 'Not bitter enough.' I: 'a little 
broken'. - Hardly had I got back in the afternoon, than Anna Mey appeared 
and stayed until 8. [. . .] The same conversations as recently. She defended Kuhn. 
He was no Nazi. Just so impulsive. On a questionnaire: 'were relatives members 
of the NSD AP?' he writes: 'Am I a common informer?' I: 'Do you think he would 
have dared write that on a questionnaire of the 3rd Reich?' The professoriate is 
playing the same game as 1919-1933. Fraulein Mey: no one knew how long 
those ruling now would remain in power. And: the rumour is still going around, 
that the Americans will come here . . . How good Goebbels' propaganda was! 
How necessary a thorough clean-up would be! - Gr. also objected to the exces- 
sively 'petit bourgeois' planning and administration of the People's High School 
programme. Advised caution. Yesterday meanwhile a letter arrived from Wengler 
with the formulation of my 'preview', also a card from Riedel, the academic 
director. I am in a dilemma. 


10th August , Friday morning 

Yesterday actually entirely taken up with the Saxon state administration. It 
resides in the magnificent building of the [former] regional air administration 
and I was there from 12 until 4. One adds to that the difficulty in getting there 
(dreadful gap with no tram [. . .] most horribly devastated area), the even greater 
difficulty of the return journey with constant thundery downpours (without 
umbrella and coat), after that still a dentist session. 

I have often admired the regional air administration with despair and hate, 
and I never believed that I would one day enter it. A small town embedded in a 
park [...]. Hundreds of rooms, in the plaster on the walls all kinds of aeronautical 
symbols. Elegant gatehouse entry at the front; one has to have a pass - 1 received 
a permanent one. But upstairs on the second floor lakes in the corridors and 
rooms, ceilings and walls damp from the previous day's downpour, and water 
had also come through to the first floor. The roof heavily damaged and still 
unrepaired, roofers had only just arrived. - Another miserable feature: 
Grohmann: 'we must go to lunch, we have eaten nothing since early this 
morning; we cannot invite you, Fischer (the deputy president) recently warned 
us not to bring a guest again.' [. . .] So I sat hungry on a bench in the corridor 
and waited f of an hour, reading. 


12th August , Sunday afternoon 

First of all I met Neumark's very likeable stepson, Dr Kretzschmar, whom I 
already knew, and who is now working here with Grohmann. Then came 
Grohmann himself. The same old song: Menke-Gliickert needed to be woken 
up, he wanted to revive the old Technical High School with the old personnel 
and the old opinions. M.-Gl. received me with uncommon warmth, as if we 


August 1945 


37 


had been close friends before the 3rd Reich. The Kuhn case was discussed, I 
became very animated (in Grohmann's presence), explained how the state had 
been sabotaged before, warned against a repetition. M.-Gl. altogether obliging, 
he also wants to secure a chair for me in Leipzig. But he nevertheless urged me 
to take an approach, which seemed mistaken to both myself and Grohmann 
and at which E. was afterwards outraged: 'You write to the TH, you make a 
request to be re-instated. Half an hour later you have been re-appointed and on 
top of that have the satisfaction, that your enemies themselves had to propose 
you. Then you yourself can work to change the spirit of the professoriate . . . 
But by myself I can do nothing; you must help me.' - Afterwards, so as to remain 
on good terms with M.-GL, I made the application. E. and everything in me 
protested against it: I do not need to petition the TH to be re-appointed [...]. 
My financial claims, said M.-GL, are with the President and they will give rise 
to a cabinet decision in principle. The government intends - state bankruptcy! - 
to reject all claims on the Hitler state, mark a new beginning and then give 
'assistance' on its own initiative. - Even before we had called on M.-GL, Gr. had 
announced my visit to President Friedrichs. So I waited in the corridor, while 
Gr. and M.-Gl. ate, and then, long after 2 p.m., with Gr. to the First President. 
Pure cinema. Large room. Right at the back on the far side, many yards from 
the door, behind a huge desk, the President; intimidating awkwardness of 
crossing the whole room. But Friedrichs rose immediately [. . .], came towards 
me to the middle of the room, where he shook my hand. Imposing figure, thick, 
completely silver hair down to his ears, face half Friesian farmer, half Field- 
Marshal Moltke. 61 (It is said, however, he is 25% Semite.) Was a senior civil 
servant in some pre-Hitler administration, is a legal expert. Very calm, cour- 
teously dignified manner. I had to sit in front of his desk. Grohmann sat to one 
side of me, gave me cues to get me talking, so that Friedrichs was informed 
about me. In between a telephone call for Fr.; Grohmann whispered to me: 
'we'll take our leave shortly.' Fr. asked me: 'You have nothing at all?' I: 'Only 
the empty house.' For a moment there was talk of my works. [. . .] Then we 
shook hands again and left. Grohmann summed up outside: 'He now knows 
you personally, and that's good when your concerns come to be discussed.' The 
whole thing a little scene from a play [. . .] Whether the business was worthwhile 
remains to be seen. 

That together with the subsequent dentist session and the letters to the TH 
and to M.-GL, to whom I presented my Leipzig request in writing with a degree 
of pathos - in the latter I believed 'myself without false modesty capable of 
making some contribution to the reconstruction of my Fatherland; I emphasise 
"my", for no matter what has happened to me, I can have no other' - that, 
therefore, took up the whole of the 9th of August. 

On the 10th we both called on the new man in the Begerburg (the clothes 
store) - he, Seidemann, 62 appears to be simultaneously the leader of the KPD 
group up here. He made a very good impression on both of us. In his mid-30s, 
bookkeeper and Communist official, spent years in prisons and concentration 
camps. A very calm and not uneducated man. The conversation quickly went 
beyond our clothes etc. requests and on to the political situation. The crux of 


38 


The Lesser Evil 


what we said was: You are too soft! With your kid gloves you will not win over 
a single bourgeois opponent, but put off your own supporters. S. invited us to 
the first (semi-improvised) anti-Fascist afternoon held today in the Begerburg, 
the former NSDAP stronghold. 

On the afternoon of the 10th Elsa Kreidl 63 turned up unexpectedly; she had 
learned of our presence here and brought a youthful Fraulein Huhle with her, 
the niece of Fraulein Ludwig 64 . Elsa Kreidl, become very thin, very ill-looking, 
was interesting in two respects. First of all because of the terrible abundance of 
her death notices. According to her information all (or almost all) of the Jews 
who were taken from here to Poland or Theresienstadt are dead: Ida Kreidl, Paul 
Kreidl (hanged), Katchen Sara Voss, the Hirschels, the Kahlenbergs . . , 65 with 
them probably also Frau Ziegler, Lissy Meyerhof, Caroli Stern. 66 [. . .] Frl. Ludwig, 
the upright aunt of Frl. Huhle, died on 13 February, her body was not found. - 
After that Elsa Kreidl was important for her bitter fear of the Communists - I 
think she would still prefer the Nazis to them. That's firmly entrenched in the 
petits bourgeois. [. . .] Frl. Huhle is looking for employment - previously a 
secretary in an industrial company, but that's finished now - I advised pro- 
visional teacher training, which is being widely publicised and sent her over to 
Forbrig to find out about it. (The Russians have recently closed the already 
'running' elementary schools again. First the schools are to be 'purged', and 
provisionally trained lay personnel will simply have to be enlisted to replace 
the kicked out Nazis.) 

I spent the forenoon of yesterday, Saturday the 11th, up in Dolzschen. 
Registering for coal - for coke I shall have to apply to the highest authority 
(required for profession) - and trying to get a new umbrella, which Frau Borner, 
the teller at the giro bank, promised me from her own things. I also received 
ration coupons, with which (sceptically!) we shall try our luck. The friendliness 
with which we are treated up there again and again gives me a kind of fairy- 
tale pleasure. And finally all friendliness is not or at least not only self-interested 
sail trimming, here and there real sympathy is at work. 

Then in the afternoon, as announced, the Schmidts were here for coffee. The 
coffee was real, but they got only bread and a little jam with it. They themselves 
brought a large basket of apricots and a little crispbread. Admittedly they turned 
up four strong. The son, Gunther, is now working in a hospital [...]. The 
daughter, Traute, who is clearing rubble at the moment, I advised, like Frl. 
Huhle, to take up teaching. Schmidt sen. said very little at all, his good-natured 
wife talked about her worries. Again the petit bourgeois fear of the KPD. 'If 
they take the house away from us - if they bring up my husband's enforced 
membership of the Party . . .' Here, too, I tried to set minds at rest. 

[. . .] At 12 we ate at the Wolffs' and then came the event at the Begerburg. 
And so for days I have not done any of my own work. In the Begerburg from 
4.30-6.30 about 80 people. A handsome room (with a view down to the 
green gorge), a grand piano, benches, a chairman's table. Two girls played the 
accordion prettily, two others sang simple songs in two-part harmony, a choir 
of little schoolgirls sang. Seidemann spoke very nicely, only occasionally falling 
into cliches, the parties, people had to get to know one another. With rather 


August 1945 


39 


more pathos, with rather more cliches, rather more broadly, but also very 
passably, Forbrig said the same thing for the SPD side and then read out, as 
exemplary, a popular pedagogical novella, Fraternal Strife . With a rather 
Saxon-accented pathos, another man read political verses by Heine, to which 
Seidemann gave a short literary history introduction - saying nothing about 
the Jew Heine. (Heine and Mendelssohn are now the most frequently mentioned 
Germans.) More interesting than the harmless afternoon was the epilogue in 
the office, where I got two neckties and a pair of underpants. Again I preached 
to Seidemann: Your gentleness is futile, the petit bourgeois fears you and thinks 
you are being hypocritical. S. invited me to give a lecture as rectification. I 
declined for the time being. E. said: otherwise people will just say: The Jew 
wants to take his revenge/ [. . .] 

Dominating wireless broadcasts and interest is Japan . 67 It is, though, being 
treated a little better than Germany. 

Seidemann said it was so very bad for the KPD that the Russians were such a 
disappointment to us. In point of fact, the starvation, the dismantling of 
machinery and no doubt the looting just goes on and on. 


14th August , Tuesday forenoon 

Visitors all the time, occasionally (yesterday) trip into town necessary; apart 
from that the wireless, everything else has come to a standstill, and beyond and 
above that the need to sleep. 

Yesterday forenoon to Nestler-Wengler; more fiddling around with the 
announcement of the LTI lectures. (Made W/s draft a little less radical and 
cliched.) [. . .] 

[. . .] Forbrig complained [. . .] bitterly about the Russians [...]. The occupiers 
received far too much meat, the population for weeks neither meat nor fat, 
there was a shortage of potatoes and the Russians requisitioned potatoes for 
distilleries, looting and outrages occurred repeatedly, and the German police 
was not allowed to do anything about it, trains of refugees from Silesia were 
being robbed by Poles every day and the Russians permitted it. [. . .] 


16th August , Thursday morning 

The Hungarian barber, who brought us the little tomcat, came yesterday evening 
and we both had our hair cut. He is a Communist. He complained almost 
despairingly about the Russians: they let us starve, they take away the last 
potatoes even from the factory workers' canteens, prevent any reconstruction, 
bring even the most peaceable small companies to a halt through looting, there 
are frequent robberies by the soldiers. And all that is laid at the door of the KPD 
and benefits Nazism and stands in the most harmful contrast to what wireless 
and newspapers preach. They lie, just as they lied under Hitler . . . Now the 
barber really is vox populi, really does express the communis opinio [. . .] 
Otherwise monotony; very wearisome reading in the closely written diary. 
Much tiredness, frequent heart problems, very gloomy mood. 


40 


The Lesser Evil 


The principal political events: Japan capitulation and Petain 68 sentenced to 
death (not carried out, because he is 89 years of age). A real newspaper is lacking, 
the Communist newssheet, which is delivered daily for 20 pfennigs, contains 
nothing more than the same news and dubious phrases which are broadcast at 
least three times a day. My kind of freedom - I see no difference [. . .] between 
LTI and LQI. 


17th August , Friday morning 

Yesterday evening something blew up in the wireless. The house feels as deserted 
as after the murder of a child. It is hardly any different for E.; we laugh about 
it, but it's true. That's how used to the wireless we have become; there is 
something opium-like, numbing about it, we doze with the wireless on, sleep, 
get through the day without thinking and without boredom. It is or was 
especially important to me now, when everything is stagnating. 

[...] 

I have to go to see Nestler again, I am to be introduced to Dr Riedel, the 
director of the People's High School. I fear the trip into town. I do not have a 
Russian identity card, and there are said to be checks, arrests, also robberies. No 
one who is not a resident here or has work here is allowed to stay in Dresden. 
Same measures and prohibition in Berlin. - Misery of the refugees driven out of 
Poland and the Czech Republic. They beg their way [and] are to be crammed 
into overcrowded Mecklenburg. 

We live literally on dry bread. Without the heavy workers' cards, without 
Steininger and Schwarz-Braune, without the Wolffs we would be starving. 
Yesterday Dr Konig, who pesters me a lot, said: 'Good thing, that we don't have 
any gas yet; otherwise there would be plenty of suicides.' [. . .] I told him about 
the Gestapo words: 'Go and buy yourself 10 pfennigs worth of gas!' For all that: 
we, too, suffer very greatly from the food shortage. But even more depressing is 
the overall situation. 


18th August , Saturday morning 

Yesterday forenoon very long session at Nestler's. N. himself, back from Leipzig, 
calm, congenial grey-haired man. Riedel, somewhat pinched, clean-shaven, 
mid-forties, a little school masterly [...] but very reasonable, level-headed, 
polite. I was able to considerably simplify and de-politicise the announcement. 
[...] 

In the wireless it was only a fuse that had gone, Wolff patched it, and it is 
going again without a care. 


19th August , Sunday towards evening 

Yesterday morning, on 18 August 45, at the registry office on Chemnitzer 
Platz (town hall) we both - a dry formality - left the Lutheran Protestant 
Church. It let us down too badly in the Nazi times. A great deal could be 


August 1945 


41 


said about it - emotionally the business is very complicated. Time is lacking. 

In the afternoon we had to obtain our new residence cards at an office in 
Westendstr. An extremely bothersome and wearisome business, one had to go 
to several tables, was showered with questions - on the one hand they want to 
replace files that have been destroyed, on the other they want to trace Nazis 
[...], thirdly, only those who were already resident here on 1 September 39 are 
to be allowed to stay in Dresden and receive food ration cards. People stood in 
line and, as I heard, had to sacrifice almost three hours. I was helped by my 
priority certificate, which I had from Scholz - because of my sufferings as a Jew 
and because of my ripe old age! I was treated very courteously, hardly any 
documents were required as proof, and was dealt with in about half an hour. 
But the cards for E. and myself now also have to be 'registered' at the town hall 
on Chemnitzer Platz, and later they have to get a Russian stamp as well, because 
without it one risks being picked up on the street by Russian soldiers and pressed 
into clearing rubble. I found the town hall closed. - Driven by lack of coffee 
substitute, I now walked the long, beautiful and memory-laden stretch to Caspar 
David Friedrich Strasse down Nothnitzer and Moreau Str. by way of Zschertnitz. 
The military hospital, in front of which I shovelled snow with Dr Magnus, 69 
while inside there were not enough doctors to carry out amputations, is in 
ruins, the Berghof inn next to it intact and open for custom. The beautiful vista. 

I found Elsa Kreidl at home, here, too, memories in garden and apartment. 70 
Nothing changed, only the bench, on which Friedheim 71 and Kreidl were in the 
habit of sitting, was gone. Elsa K. gave me a friendly welcome, she gave me 
ersatz coffee, a hat belonging to her husband, fragments of shoe laces and 
French books. I then walked to Wasaplatz, to our old grocer Hahnel. I had to 
go into their sitting room as a guest, I was presented with a cigar, I got Rispa 
coffee and Maggi cubes without coupons - the people want to visit us. 

I then took the tram back and was not home until 6.30. Hardly had we eaten, 
than Seidemann (the new KPD group leader) appeared with his wife and stayed 
until midnight. In the end E. put tea and dry bread on the table. S. is 37, dull 
eyes and blond hair, calm resolute character, a certain hardness and abruptness 
in manner - then one realises that there is feeling, reflection, idealism, experi- 
ence, self-education, also unsureness behind it, his wife reddish pale, hollow- 
cheeked, very quiet. They have a six-year-old daughter. S. had to get to know 
the child again, with interruptions he was in prison and concentration camps 
before and during the war. [. . .] I asked him about his profession, his schooling. 
Elementary education, autodidact, idealist, seeker, visionary - not a fanatic, 
hungry for education [...]. He was a bookkeeper for his brother, he tried this 
and that, has now registered for teacher training. What he has lived on until 
now and how he has supported his marriage is obscure to me. No doubt she 
worked. [. . .] I already noticed recently during his introductory words on Heine, 
how he seeks and turns things over in his mind. At the same time all woolliness, 
narrowness, also all show is absent. The man is unpretentious and, I believe, 
genuine. - From the library of Kluge - the Nazi judge, in whose confiscated 
apartment the Wolffs are living - I had taken for my permanent use a Schiller, 
a Nietzsche, a tiny English dictionary and a couple of school textbooks: 


42 


The Lesser Evil 


Seidemann looked longingly at the Nietzsche and I gave him both volumes. 
[. . .] The concept of property is becoming completely lost: I do not mourn my 
own stolen and burned things, with just as little emotion I make use of the 
'confiscated' furniture and books of others, I also calmly hold on to the rings 
of the late Katchen Sara, I worry very little about my debts and my lack of 
income. I live like the lily of the field. 


20th August, Monday forenoon 

Curious how people gradually emerge from the chaos and the ruins. Yesterday 
afternoon Frau Jahrig, formerly Neumarks' secretary [...]. 


22nd August , Wednesday forenoon 

Most wearisome progress in the diary with constant distraction, inflamed eyes, 
tiredness etc. 

On Monday forenoon I was at the State Library. The big, well-preserved 
Scharnhorst School on Eisenacherstr. (22 tram as far as Schandauerstr., Zeiss- 
Ikon factory - the ruins of the inner city stand out all the more horribly, the 
more clearing up that is done.) [. . .] Dr Neubert, whom I remember as young, 
looks very much aged given his thin grey hair and general undernourishment 
and speaks with great resignation. (Become director and Party member in 39, 
his position is of course very shaky.) 'We are in suspense here, from day to day 
I do not know what is going to happen.' I related it to his own person, which 
he denied. 'If I go, there'll be someone else; but we are beginning to get settled 
here and now State Secretary Menke-Gluckert plans to move the college of 
education here.' About 200,000 volumes had been burned, much was still in 
store in the cellar of the Japanese Palace, a large proportion had been removed 
to the Bautzen area and had been looted - it was as yet impossible to determine 
what had been saved there and when what had been saved could be transported 
back. And that is precisely where the Romance literatures things are likely to 
be. But he would write to me, if some of my needs (French literary history and 
bibliography, my own works) turned up again; and as long as no reading room 
had been opened I could also have books at home. He was very accommodating, 
simultaneously, as already mentioned, very resigned and sceptical. Complaints 
about the Russians here, too. [. . .] 

At the Wolffs the talk was and is only of the forfeiture of all deposits at present 
held by banks, 72 her mother, typical of very small savers, loses 7,000M, all her 
fortune. (We ourselves must still have 150 marks in the blocked account in the 
Deutsche Bank - no great loss) [...]. 

On Tuesday forenoon (yesterday) up to the Begerburg to see Seidemann. E. 
will (as agreed recently) play and accompany on a Sunday. A few weeks later I 
will give a lecture there, which is supposed to draw the middle classes. I want 
to show how each nation contributes to culture as a whole, each in its own way 
is chosen, each has its own special hour. [. . .] From the stores E. got a raincoat, 
I a shirt, a pair of braces was also found. [. . .] 


August 1945 


43 


At around coffee time Hilde Rasch, quite grown up, appeared. We want to 
take in the Raschs as soon as possible: 1) there are already admonitory letters 
coming from the housing office, 2) we need help with domestic chores. Yesterday 
an investigator from the housing office took up a lot of our time. (When he 
heard that I was Jewish and a friend of Scholz, he became very affable.) 1) the 
shop fittings have to go; the ground for that has now been prepared, a very 
talkative Frau Muller will get them for her new haberdashery shop - the braces 
already mentioned above come from her. 2) the shop has to be turned back into 
a proper room and 3) coke delivery has to be approved by the coal office. 

[...] 

Letter from 'State Secretary Menke-Gliickert' (official letterhead), he would 
issue instructions for my teaching appointment at the University of Leipzig, as 
soon as I had been re-appointed professor here. And what if the TH does not 
propose me again? 

[...] 

Letter from Trude Ohlmann. Her son Claus has been missing since December 
42, he came down with his plane over Murmansk. During an air raid in Dec. 43 
she herself suffered concussion and her arm was broken in two places - 'arm 
not much use' - in the Deutsche Biicherei in Leipzig. In December 44 - sup- 
posedly after-effects of the fall - she had a major operation: tumour (cancer?), 
her right breast, a muscle in the upper arm removed, 4 months in hospital. Her 
clothed weight (and she was a very fat woman), less than eight stone, her 
apartment damaged. The Deutsche Biicherei is also badly damaged, 220,000 
volumes and the publishers' catalogue destroyed by fire, 2\ million volumes 
evacuated. Bitter complaints also about hunger. 

Towards evening 

Old Testament-like: when I went up to Haubold at the village square - a 
drainpipe running from the eaves gutter has come loose and there are rain and 
thunderstorms every day - I met Frau Dr Eichler [a neighbour] and her boy. 
They were going to glean, acquaintances were doing it as well, they could 
manage to collect at least a little bit of grain. The shortage is simply tremendous. 
Yesterday our baker up here issued a 4\ pound coupon to me, in addition there 
are Steininger's and Schwarz's gifts (for how much longer with the ever-greater 
shortage?), and Eva's heavy worker's card (for how much longer??), and with 
all of that we shall only barely make it to the next ration. [. . .] 


24th August ; Friday forenoon 

Invitation from the Democratic Cultural Union [Kulturbund] 73 to sign its appeal, 
to participate in its scholars' group. Analogous to the Berlin and Leipzig under- 
takings, association of all Dresden 'notables' (nebbich, 74 with the exception of 
the actor Ponto really very paltry). This is no secret little clique, however, and I 
must join in. And once again Herr Kuhn is there, I also find the name Felix 
Zimmermann suspect, he is chairman of the Literary Association and I think he 
has an unpleasant article on Gerhart Hauptmann's 75 80th birthday on his 


44 


The Lesser Evil 


conscience. I shall talk to Grohmann, he and Kretzschmar are naturally also 
present. 

[-] 

Visits are killing me. Yesterday the beautiful Maria Kube, who is living in 
Rackelwitz - her husband is still a prisoner of war, the boys are supposed to go 
to grammar school here - and the Steiningers, who brought us a bread coupon, 
but also see the bread future as gloomy. In addition still the dentist torment. 
He said the terrible drilling literally took twice as long as it did before, because 
there was no hard steel to be had. 

[..J 


25th August, Saturday forenoon 

Very little time for working through the diary. 

Yesterday afternoon, a brother of Seidemann (commercial artist) here with a 
woman singer, who is to give a concert with E. in the Begerburg. [. . .] At all 
events E. [. . .] and myself in despair, despite all the stimulation, at the loss of 
time. 

Today a large part of the morning was taken by the letter, which I had to write 
to Trude Ohlmann. Someone is just travelling to Leipzig and will take it along, 
that's still quicker than the regular post. 

[...] 

My efforts to read something after supper repeatedly come to nought because 
of utter tiredness. [. . .] 


27th August, Monday forenoon 

On Sunday we eat with the Wolffs at 12 instead of 1 (infinitely wretched and 
hungry, a most scanty plate of soup). As we were about to go over, Elsa Kreidl 
appeared [. . .] Elsa Kreidl, absolutely good and generous, nevertheless once 
again showed herself a narrow-minded petite bourgeoise with a tendency to 
Natsoc. Everything inside her is fear and antipathy towards the Communists 
and the Russians. But, with respect to the Russians, I shall soon be the only 
person in all of Dresden who will half or quarter way defend them: the want is 
too great and everyone feels robbed and unsparingly subject to hunger. 

Back late from the miniature lunch, we very soon had to leave for the Windes, 
who are occupying the apartment of a painter on Calberlastr., off Pillnitzer 
Landstr. The moment we were leaving, Lewinsky 76 appeared unannounced, 
become very much thinner, but utterly unchanged in character. Still armed 
with freshly bought books of every kind, even though all his earlier ones 
were burnt, even though there is hardly anything to buy, but someone who 
grabs indiscriminately will always find something, still the old mixture of 
great modesty and great thespian affectedness. Since we were already taken 
today, he simply set off to see his woman friend - it turned out she lives 
around the comer from Calberlastr. and so we had to make the long journey 
on no. 22 and no. 18 together (and we met again on the return journey!). 


August 1945 


45 


The route took us past the Jacoby Villa/ 7 the only ruin in a well-preserved 
part of town. 

The view from the Windes' apartment across the Elbe to the hills [...]. Inside, 
much modesty and much art - a large, brightly coloured Central Asian painting 
dominated. He was very lively and youthful in a close-fitting, very short and 
very worn leather jacket, she looking much aged, very thin, a very little bit 
slovenly. Tea and jam at a tiny table - we had brought bread. For hours he 
showed us his work (one of the three rooms serves as a studio). Turned bowls 
and beakers and little boxes in different kinds of wood [...]. On the whole I was 
of course very quiet and very aware of my lack of competence and response. 


28th August , Tuesday forenoon 

Before midday yesterday I was able to work through a couple of pages of diary 
[...]. Then came the Kromer letter from Falkenstein, the first post from there! 
and the reply took a long time. I once chatted to the Kromer couple for half 
an hour in Schemer's private office, 78 without them making any very strong 
impression on me. He, a doctor who fled from Oppeln, was employed by the 
pension office in F. and has now lost his job. His wife turns to me 'in despair', 
could I somehow help him obtain a post, in Dresden they had been 'downright 
negative'. Although he had never been a pg. He does not know how he will 
survive. - I asked for further details, at the same time included greetings to the 
Schemers. - I felt very flattered. Deplorably human, all too human: for some 
people here I am now a bigwig. How small I would be, if the musician Otto 
Klemperer 79 were still alive! That often goes through my head, when the wireless 
praises the returning Jewish conductors etc. What a fuss there would have been 
for Otto Kl.! Now he means nothing to the public. - Yesterday the news of 
Werfel's 80 death was broadcast. He was only 54. What right have I, with my 
almost 64 years, to want to go on living any longer? 

Just as the letter to Kromer was finished, Seidemann appeared with his wife 
and little daughter. [. . .] Again talk turned to the excessively hesitant and 
timid activity of the KPD. Once again I found it embarrassing, how little 
the Communist officials know about bureaucracy, about administrative and 
academic matters. [. . .] Seidemann is more educated than Scholz, but likewise 
'untrained'. - It is very greatly to my advantage, that here in Dolzschen I am a 
kind of honourable grey-beard and, so to speak, intermediary between Com- 
munists and bourgeois. Now, for example, I am enlisting Housing Office and 
KPD (Scholz and Seidemann) in order to obtain coke instead of the briquettes 
allocated to private household by the Coal Office. 

[. . .] After supper I then fell asleep listening to the wireless. Eva too. 


30th August , Thursday forenoon 

[. . .] Meanwhile I heard yesterday at the Kulturbund, that the People's High 
School is changing hands, that its first 'preview announcement' was banned by 
the government after it had been displayed as a public poster for one day. The 


46 


The Lesser Evil 


new man is called, I think, Professor Wachs. - I [then] went to Scharnhorst 
School and was again given a friendly welcome by Neubert. A big Sachs-Vilatte, 
the bibliography and the lit. history by Lanson [...], as well as a briefer survey 
of French lit. history, dating from the early 30s were waiting for me there. I took 
half of this very weighty blessing home with me, will fetch the rest in the next 
few days. [. . .] I also talked about Kuhn to Neubert. He said: 'Even though Kuhn 
is on such friendly terms with the very democratic Scheffler.' I: The lead article 
writer of Das Reich.' N: 'He only wrote about English humour. Grohmann also 
published in Das Reich . '! 

The afternoon was swamped by visits. First Konrad came. We had to invite 
him for coffee, although we were already very short of bread. The forfeiture of 
bank accounts is costing him the last of his wealth, 20,000M. He complains 
that the Russians prevent any kind of wholesale business. He would like a united 
campaign by the Jews here: they were not , as was explicitly happening in the 
Anglo-American zone, being given preference over the rest of the population. 
Also the Entente must commit itself to compensation for Jews. [. . .] 

After Konrad, Steininger came, truly a good angel, because he brought a 4- 
pound bread coupon. But even that does not get us through to the end of the 
extended ration period. And another but: from 1 September the stocks of the 
bread factories will be reduced by more stringent accounting - and so Steininger 
will no longer be able to help us. Apart from that the talk was again of placing 
the Steininger archive. 

Last to come was Forbrig. He brought me (with the picture of the head of a 
repulsive Jew) the list of Jewish shops, which was distributed in schools for 
boycott purposes during the early Nazi days. [. . .] 

Early yesterday morning I caught an already broadcast talk about Johannes 
Becher, who is now constantly being excessively celebrated by the Communist 
side as the greatest German poet. I have already frequently heard as a list of the 
greats: Goethe, Heine, Thomas Mann, Becher. 81 Yesterday the superlativising 
went even further, the list of the greats was: Dante, Goethe, Heine, Becher. I 
gathered from the pompous blather that Becher (presumably bom at the begin- 
ning of the 90s) began as an Expressionist during the Great War. I heard two 
rather good sonnets by him, the first a spiritualised description of Tubingen, 
the other (which the speaker compares to the Inferno) about General Mola, the 
initial leader of the Right-wing revolution in Spain, who was killed in a plane 
crash early on. 

Yesterday afternoon at 4 (29 Aug.) first session of the Kulturbund, Scholarship 
and Research Working Group. Well preserved rooms in a villa at 28 Leub- 
nitzerstr., corner of Liebigstr. Way there, through much destruction, accom- 
panied by bad heart complaints [...]. Memento. A writer, Herr von Hanstein, 82 
dark, middling height and age, took the chair, apart from myself 9 people, of 
whom I knew Gehrig (become very thin, otherwise unchanged) and Janentzky. 
Kuhn not present. [...]. A little man, sleek, agile, somewhat precious and 
pedantic in speech: Prof. Wachs - Prof, where? and of what? Hanstein opened 
with the usual thanks; spoke about the tasks of the coming broadcasting station, 
the coming People's High School. Here Prof. Wachs spoke. The first People's 


August 1945 


47 


High School announcement had been banned, he himself had been appointed 
to re-organise and direct it, asked for our co-operation, 'ultimate goal' was 
university entrance. At that I spoke; I had already offered my services, university 
as goal was out of the question, but there also had to be clarification as to who 
belonged to us, both there and here in the Kulturbund - the case of Kuhn. 
Brusque protest from Janentzky [. . .] and unfortunately, apparently out of a 
misconceived spirit of democratic broad-mindedness, also from Gehrig, who 
called me subjective and schoolmasterly I argued heatedly and quite evidently 
met with the approval of several there, but no one dared pick up the hot potato. 
After that, as belated straggler, Undersecretary Menke-Gliickert, now altogether 
accustomed to his power, appeared, and it was taken for granted that the chair 
passed from von Hanstein to him. He was sceptical of the whole Kulturbund 
enterprise and its subsidiary working groups. What should be the task of the 
Kulturbund, how far should its authority and power extend, who should belong 
to it? All that was unclear and remained unclear, although there had been hours 
of talking. [. . .] I said, the Kulturbund must act with a degree of authority as a 
democratic guide to conscience - M.-Gl. thought that amounted to a 'censorship 
board'. I: rather to Academie Fran^aise. [. . .] The whole endless blather ran its 
course as futilely as all the discussions in which I have taken part in countless 
faculty and senate meetings. More important was the post festum: Janentzky 
told me, he had immediately passed on my petition, the 're-establishment of 
the Romance Languages and Literatures chair' had been proposed; M.-Gl.: he 
would attend to it 'first thing tomorrow'; Gehrig: it had taken 8 weeks before 
he was re-appointed. The same old red tape. [. . .] Afterwards I asked myself, why 
have I saddled myself with this affair? What good is it to the general public, if 
I bring down Kuhn? And what good is it to me? Defeat as much as victory 
will have unpleasant consequences for me . . . Hanstein also asked me about 
Janentzky. I said: dubious, his background was Romanticism, which could mean 
one thing or another, there was German and Teutonic Romanticism. The phrase 
made a great impression, I should not be surprised, if I received an invitation 
to talk about G. and T. Romanticism on the wireless. 


31st August, Friday 

[...] 

The forenoon today, Friday, was largely taken up by an obligatory visit to 
Steininger. I looked through his motley collection of books and took a few with 
me. Gradually some things worth reading are accumulating here, but I don't 
get around to anything. A couple of pages of diary every day, and in the evening 
I fall asleep to the wireless. I also got a piece of bread as a present [...]. People 
are queuing at the bakers' shops and buying as much as they can. The new 
coupons were issued yesterday, they are not actually valid until tomorrow - but 
everyone is starving ... Famine and typhoid , general vaccination has been 
ordered first for Berlin, now also for Dresden. [. . .] 

Again and again the rumour: the Russians are exchanging Dresden for 
Hamburg, and the English or the Americans are coming here, and then every- 


48 


The Lesser Evil 


thing will be better. It is as impossible to argue against this rumour as against 
the rumours of new weapons in the final stage of the war and of Germans and 
Americans joining up against the Russians. 


2nd September , midday Sunday 

Did not get down to any work all day yesterday. In the morning the Begerburg. 
E/s music-making is to take place in two weeks, my lecture ('Chosen Peoples') 
already this Wednesday. I have just been sketching it out. [. . .] Bread sold out 
everywhere, not to be had again until midday tomorrow. So today we are in 
dire straits - I am eating masses of unripe tomatoes from Wolffs abundant 
planting. 


3rd September , Monday morning 

[...] 

Trude Ohlmann told us, in a long letter, that she has a holiday this month. I 
wrote, she should equip herself with provisions and come to us. 

[. . .] During the day I devote the few hours in which I feel fresh, and am not 
distracted, to my diaries. I must manage the 'Notebook of a Philologist'. Nothing 
will come of the Curriculum part for the time being. 


5th September , Wednesday afternoon 

The days are frittered away, they are full, without my getting down to actual 
work. - Just now two hundredweight of coal had to be hand-carted here in two 
trips, only downhill, and only the few yards from Marienburger Str. to here: but 
heart and hands rebelled and by now it's 6.45 and at 7.30 I'm supposed to talk 
for an hour at the Begerburg on 'Chosen Peoples'. I ran over the topic once 
again in my head this morning - without making any notes. - E's approaching 
music evening with the singer Luise Ulrich took up the greater part of yesterday 
afternoon: they rehearsed here, the brothers and Frau Seidemann listened, 
afterwards we talked about politics and people. [. . .] futile errands to buy bread. 
Constantly sold out, queues and despair up here and down in Plauen. Once a 
still warm four-pounder, once potatoes from the Wolffs, once from the Jungs. 
Misery from day to day. 

But the principal loss of time arises from the constant demands placed on the 
influential Jew. The whole world wants my help - and I myself am still without 
position and money. 


6th September , Thursday forenoon 

[...] 

There is more trouble for the Vogels. They had been allocated a shop, it was 
due to open on 15 September close by Plauen station. Objection by the mayor 
or district chief officer: as Nazis the Vogels will not get any merchandise - they 


September 1 945 


49 


are checkmated once again, therefore. Yesterday Father V. burst into tears here; 
40 years work, money and house lost, the poor children and grandchildren - 
what crime had he committed? I shall talk to the mayor in person. - Complaints 
of my neighbour Jung, who is unceasingly really helpful, and for whom I already 
wrote a testimonial a little while ago. His Party membership is to be 'annulled'. 
But now he is being pressed to join the 'Free Trade Union' and (truly!) the KPD. 
'I'm an engineer, I'm not a politician, I was forced to join the Nazi Party, I'm 
sick of it all, I don't ever want . . .' I shall speak to Seidemann about Jung. - The 
Wolff-Kluge affair. Wolff has a very bad press up here; it's not only Scholz, the 
all-powerful man at the housing office, who is his enemy. Through his initial 
arrogance W. has forfeited every sympathy, he cannot manage to obtain sole use 
of the apartment in Marienburgstr. This is now to the advantage of old Wittig, 
the co-occupant, who is trying to protect the apartment and property of his 
son-in-law Kluge. Meanwhile Kluge, the harmless young man, whom Forbrig 
spoke up for at first, is so incriminated that even F. has to abandon him: 1934 
junior lawyer, 1943 or 44 already district judge and as such transferred to 
Danzig, important post in the Party organisation. He won't dare show his face 
here any more. But the Wolffs will not benefit even from this state of affairs . . . 
For me all this results in errands, writing, bothersome visitors. 

[...] 

Yesterday evening, Wednesday 5 September, therefore, I gave my first lecture 
up in the Begerburg, in the very place where the Nazis had their seat, my first 
lecture after more than ten years. An emotional reflection could be written on 
the reversal in my situation, about the ups and downs of my life. Here only the 
plain facts. The room is supposed to accommodate 130 people, extra chairs had 
to be put in, crowded, oppressive heat, audience quiet as mice. To what extent 
they could follow me I have no idea. I had no notes, had written down only a 
series of keywords beforehand - 1 spoke completely extempore for \\ hours: [. . .] 
Everyone considers the other nation inferior, his own chosen. General human 
weakness. But thanks to German thoroughness it has become a crime. [. . .] The 
deviation into arrogant zoology, into falsification and suppression of infor- 
mation, into isolation and adulation of the only chosen Nordic or Germanic 
spirit. - I had asked Seidemann not to introduce me, as he had intended, as a 
'victim of Fascism'. There was no discussion. But afterwards on the way home: 
Forbrig and E., there had been too little on modernity. A representative of the 
Democratic Party: he would like to have heard something about China. A 
Catholic: he was a Catholic and had nevertheless liked it very much, I was so 
unbiased (I had said many good things about the Catholic Church). A dark little 
man with a pinched face: he had found my 'historical retrospective' interesting, 
but as a convinced Marxist he was a follower of the materialist conception of 
history. I had set forth how material and mental interact, but had then con- 
cluded with the 'spirit, which builds the body'. - Without exaggerating: I can 
still talk. 


50 


The Lesser Evil 


7th September ; Friday morning 

Coal question: If we get coke, we can heat the whole house and take in the 
Raschs. The coal office has to be influenced via the Housing Office, the latter 
(Scholz) spurred on by Seidemann (KPD). Yesterday evening I went across to 
the Seidemanns about it - we chatted for a long time. How difficult it is, coming 
from two different social strata, to find common ground. One feels one's way, 
one is uncertain, one never knows whether the other is really behaving naturally, 
whether he is not self-conscious, mistrustful, is playing a role. Seidemann 
himself is no longer 'people', no longer a KPD man plain and simple, is already 
above it, is already sceptically outside the stratum and party into which he is 
born. [. . .] 

With respect to coal, thanks to Jung's intercession, we have now got a small 
slow-burning stove which eats briquettes. Except, unfortunately, it costs 64M 
and a big electricity bill is imminent and a big dentist's bill, and I still haven't 
received any money from the state - yes! 200M once from Grohmann's artists' 
fund! - and I have still not been confirmed in my post. But in principle and in 
fact I no longer worry about money matters, truly they no longer weigh on me, 
they have become unimportant. Things will work out somehow. 

A few weeks ago Theodor Plievier 83 was the most topical name. His novel 
Stalingrad was serialised in the Berliner Volkszeitung, he read chapters from it on 
the wireless, in a curiously inhibited, somewhat foreign-sounding - E. said: 
boozy voice. I racked my brains, trying to remember where I knew the name 
from, although I have never read anything by the man. Yesterday, deliverance, 
a short article about him and a brief sketch by him, sailors' revolt Kiel 1918. 
The Emperor Went, the Generals Remained this book title is a catchphrase rem- 
iniscence of the time. The man is a German Barbusse, 84 he lived in Russia, has 
now risen again. He has led, says the article, the life of a worker and an 
adventurer, has also been a sailor. That's where the 'boozy voice' could come 
from. 

[...] 


10th September, Monday forenoon 

The uncertain situation, the activity and emptiness of the days, the brooding 
over LTI and diary, the stimulation and distraction of the wireless - all 
unchanged. Recently inconvenienced again by interruptions to electricity 
supply. Just now E. is building a stove again in the garden, we are without 
breakfast at 10 a.m. Our tomcat is a worry. He is not very likely to survive, and 
has recently been dirtying the house (particularly unpleasant today). 

[.••] 

What disturbs me most each time about the anti-Fascism meetings of the 
KPD (which at least here in Saxony are not followed by any deeds), is the 
identification of 'Prussian spirit' and National Socialist mentality. That is not 
true. 

Yesterday afternoon invited to the Steiningers, the Windes also there and 
common friends of the Steiningers and the Windes: Prof. Hanusch and his wife. 


September 1945 


51 


He is 65, very grey and shaky, painter, professor at Plauen art school until 33, 
then dismissed because too modern. His wife bent by age, but her wrinkled face 
very finely cut, big blue-grey eyes, imposing forehead, Jewish. Was staying with 
relatives in Bohemia when the Heydrich murder took place and despite her 
mixed marriage and her husband's every effort was taken to Theresienstadt for 
40 months. She says that, apart from hunger and work (in a painter's studio), 
things were not too bad for her, but countless people, particularly the elderly 
and children, everyone who was not able to work, were taken to Auschwitz to 
be gassed, very many had also died of starvation. On 8 May the Russians 
came as liberators and were greeted enthusiastically. They immediately threw 
cigarettes, chocolate, tea etc. to those still waiting behind the barriers, then 
made sure there was better food. The SS had already handed over the running 
of the camp to the Red Cross a few days earlier - out of fear and to save 
themselves. - The Hanuschs are the first people for a long time from whom we 
hear anything good about the Russians [. . .] 

The Vogel case causes me a lot of bother. On Saturday afternoon Deputy 
Mayor Witecki at the town hall on Chemnitzer Platz let me know, he would be 
available for me to talk to him on Monday morning - today. It occurred to me 
that the man might already know me as his enemy from the files. I shall 
therefore be cautious [. . .] I myself may be dependent, as far as E.'s heavy 
worker's card is concerned, on Witecki. As I was returning from this errand, at 
Plauen station I met Aris, 85 the ambitious Jewish foreman at Schliiter; he now 
has a temporary post in charge of the dismantling of a metal and armaments 
factory; after 13 February he hid in the neighbourhood of Dresden, using false 
papers which were obtained for him by a pg and policeman. - On the same 
errand, a beaming, tall, blond man, whom I could not place, addressed me. 'But 
I was your foreman (shovelling snow)!' He inquired about Magnus. 

Seidemann sent us oatmeal, flour and fruit conserves from confiscated stocks. 
As fee for the lecture! 


14th September, Friday forenoon 

On Tuesday morning, 11 Sept., I got the Russian stamp on my resident's permit, 
without which one can be arrested on the street or in the tram by military 
patrols. In Coschiitzer Str. [...], at a little table four Russian army clerks, in front 
of them a queue. Since they could not read my priority certificate, I had to 
queue, too. But people were dealt with at lightning speed. By contrast across 
the road in Schopenhauerstr. there was a crowd of people waiting in front of 
the headquarters building. The pg's had to register individually there, whereas 
we of unblemished character were allowed to present the permits of our depend- 
ents. 

[...] 

I spent all of Wednesday morning (12 Sept.) at the State Administration. [. . .] 
I let M.-Gl. know that I would like to see him and was received immediately 
with a quite touching and disarming warmth, I had the definite impression, 
that M.-GL, who on this occasion appeared even older than before, nourishes 


52 


The Lesser Evil 


an almost comradely goodwill towards me. That was such a comfort, that the 
continuing uncertainty of my situation weighs on me less than before. M.-Gl. 
spoke with a certain degree of despair about his helplessness. The Russians' 
never-ending new directions, inquiries, prohibitions, changes, made work 
almost impossible and repeatedly Sisyphus-like. The secondary schools should 
start on 1 October and the intention was - but it could hardly be said there was 
any hope of it - that the TH could somehow begin on 1 November. [. . .] Anyone 
who was working at the TH at the moment was doing no more than clearing 
away rubble ... My own case [. . .]: the chair would be re-established as soon as 
another one was cut - but others were being cut, and mine was a priority . . . 
The People's High School: 'the Russians came to him with the poster of the first 
"preview"; political topics were announced on it without their approval. Ban, 
and I should be shot!' [. . .] But, as already said, he would do everything humanly 
possible for me. And also with the financial matter; there was constant dis- 
cussion of my case, President Friedrichs must finally make the decision; it was 
obviously difficult for him, because in principle he wanted to refuse all demands 
on the Hitler state, and so he could not create a precedent by recognising my 
demands - on the other hand I was to be compensated somehow ... I therefore 
had the general impression, that they want to set me on solid ground and assist 
me, but when and how?? [. . .] 


15th September , Saturday forenoon 

A concert general rehearsal was arranged for Thursday afternoon in the Beg- 
erburg. I let E. go alone and worked at my diary for as long as my constantly 
inflamed eyes allowed. Then towards evening I went up. I encountered [. . .] a 
new situation: the KPD, in the name of the anti-Fascist bloc has decreed an 
educational or commemorative week with regard to concentration-camp 
people. Consequently the concert programme was much reduced, a political 
core - poems and songs from the camps - inserted. Seidemann asked me to visit 
him on Friday evening at a KPD meeting in the Party office on Coschutzer Str. 
[...] 


16th September , Sunday forenoon 

On Friday evening I went down to the KPD meeting with Seidemann. There's 
a little KPD book and newspaper shop in Coschutzer Str., the meeting room is 
behind it. Since some repair work had to be done there, we moved the few steps 
across to Plauen town hall, to the chamber on the first floor [...]. The chamber 
contains a long table, a few chairs and a number of rough, stool-like benches. 
Everything about this town hall is bomb-damaged. - Seidemann [...] had 
carefully prepared me as we were on our way: I would meet only workers and 
'Party men', the chairman, his concentration camp comrade, Glockner, was a 
rigid Communist. S. then introduced me to Gl., a younger, very slight man. Not 
quite appropriately, but he probably meant it as a joke, S. said: 'You should be 
very nice to the professor, his brother was Lenin's doctor.' 86 I immediately cut 


September 1945 


53 


in: 'that's no recommendation, someone can have a very good brother and be 
good for nothing himself/ Whereupon Glockner with deep seriousness and in 
a loud oratorical voice: 'Yes, for us it's only the man himself who counts and 
his class-conscious revolutionary character/ With that I'd already had enough, 
and also, I cannot deny it, the fact that the little group consisted only of evident 
workers, alienated me. So we moved across to the town hall chamber, I sat there 
with 8 or 10 people, among them an old and a younger woman - 'Frau Eva 
Schulze, her husband was beheaded, Planettastr. is now named Fritz Schulzestr. 
after him/ 87 Seidemann said, who sat down almost protectively beside me - so 
I was sitting in a row with the others at the long table, opposite us there was 
only Glockner as chairman and at his side an elderly gentleman who looked 
more as if he came from an intelligentsia stratum - the former publisher Rudolf, 
presently employed at an information office, as I learned yesterday ... I now 
have to say, that, despite a few class-conscious cliche phrases, I was thoroughly 
impressed by Glockner as 'functionary'. He spoke quite matter-of-factly and 
instructively, we were swiftly in the picture. The Antifa Bloc was holding 
'question-and-answer meetings' throughout a propaganda week. No speeches 
are to be given, rather the public - it is to be hoped also the pg's themselves, 
because they will be invited to come - is supposed to find out through its own 
questions, how matters stood with the law in the 3rd Reich, and what the 
prisoner in the concentration camp suffered. At each meeting 1-3 victims of 
Fascism will allow themselves to be questioned. There will be detectives in the 
audience, who will start the ball rolling. Beforehand the concentration-camp 
inmate will get a sheet of paper with questions. (Why and how arrested? - 
Treatment in camp? - Attitude of the doctors? etc. etc. eleven points, some with 
subsidiary questions.) No one needs to be a public speaker, each should simply 
remember and really answer what he experienced. The last point on the ques- 
tionnaire is: 'What depressed and tormented you most as a prisoner?' After the 
exposition, Glockner asked whether all those present were willing to participate. 

I said, I had not been in a concentration camp and would not want to make a 
boast of my almost everyday misfortunes. This was indignantly overruled. No 
one would boast, each person would simply state his experience, and mine was 
also important. Public meetings have been arranged for this district [. . .] between 
19-22 Sept. In addition a general rehearsal in front of an invited audience (100 
people; teachers, doctors, lawyers, many pg's among them). At this general 
rehearsal, which was supposed to take place at 7 p.m. yesterday evening in the 
town hall chamber at Chemnitzer Platz, those to be questioned were Seidemann 
and myself. [There . . .] it turned out: the invitations were posted too late and 
will not be delivered until Sunday or Monday - Yet this hour in the town hall 
was not quite wasted. There were only a few people invited by word of mouth 
sitting in faraway corners, and the comite chatted at the table. E. had come 
with me and Kovacs, the Hungarian barber, who really did not want to take any 
money from us the day before yesterday for cutting our hair, because I am still 
not receiving a salary. This time the chair was to be taken by a certain Vogel, a 
no longer young, no longer so very working class functionary. He told me what 
battles had been necessary to carry the expropriation of land 88 and the closure 


54 


The Lesser Evil 


of banks [in the Soviet zone], 'particularly against the Christian Democratic 
Union' [...]. I repeated my usual dictum: You are not proceeding determinedly 
enough in civil service and school posts! At which he, and this did give me a 
poke in the stomach: 'For the time being we have to play along with the 
democratic state; later . . he stopped meaningfully. The KPD'ers have therefore 
been promised, that the Party will behave towards the other Bloc parties just as 
the Nazis behaved towards their Conservative allies etc. 


1 8th September , Tuesday forenoon 

Berlin wireless talk: Reconstruction of the Junkers air plane plant, democratic- 
peaceful-denazified. Among other things there are 45 apprentices, who on two 
afternoons a week get ‘ideological instruction'. It is impossible to say just how 
often I hear 'orientation', 'action', 'militant'. All that's missing now is 'fan- 
atical'. - When Dr Konig told me gloomily yesterday: 'They have "taken away" 
my cousin and handed him over to the Russians, even though they said they 
were not going to arrest anyone who was just a pg, and wasn't active - we don't 
know what the charge is and what has happened to him': then here the survival 
of the ignominious LTI expression is doubly comprehensible, 1) in the mouth 
of a former pg and 2) because the thing itself has remained the same. (Konig 
related that his cousin had been in the Party since 1929, he had been 'taken 
away' with 6 other doctors and dentists, presumably the founders and pro- 
genitors of the local Party medical group.) 

Moscow announces Kutusov celebrations. 89 Certainly, K. will be celebrated as 
liberator of Russia - yet also as Tsarist general and commander. One can add to 
that -[...] Stalin's picture in uniform with medals, as it is displayed in gigantic 
size at Albertplatz, further the constant parades and the rest of the military fuss 
of the Allies in the newspapers and on the wireless: that's how anti-militarism 
is demonstrated to the Germans, that's how their 're-education' (LQI) is brought 
about. 

[...] 

Recently our tolerable neighbour Frau Charles stopped me in the street: could 
I do something for a pg teacher, a certain Anders, who had tutored Victor or 
Ralph von Klemperer's 90 children and had shown himself to be altogether philo- 
Semetic? I replied, that I had had little contact with the emigrated Kl.'s, knew 
nothing of their children and their tutors, could therefore give no testimonial 
of any kind. - But I had the same name! - I explained to Frau Ch. very firmly, 
that it was a matter of a serious testimonial and not a favour; she exculpated 
herself, she had thought we were intimate with the bank Klemperers. The 
embarrassing matter appeared to be disposed of, but then yesterday Frau Ch. 
brought the man here, a pinched elderly face, and the request was repeated. I 
said No extremely clearly; perhaps for all the clarity it was still much too polite. 

Meanwhile I have had to give two new testimonials and did so gladly: for 
Frau Paul, 91 who is looking for Jewish contacts in Switzerland [. . .], and for the 
decent pharmacist Weisbach [...], who was once recommended to us by the 
Dembers because of his philo-Semitism. - This whining after testimonials is 


September 1945 


55 


disgusting. And some time or other the Jews will get the bill for it; I see a new 
Hitlerism coming, I do not feel at all safe. [. . .] 

The concert in the Begerburg on Sunday came off very well, but unfortunately 
it was neither fish nor fowl, also the audience was small, about 60-70 people. 
Seidemann had tried to find a middle way. He wanted a purely artistic afternoon 
and his party wanted a propagandistic commemoration of the concentration- 
camp victims. Seidemann abridged Frau Ulrich's programme [. . .] and in the 
middle placed a little talk, delivered by himself, about life in the camp, more 
amusing than tragic [. . .] as well as a few partly folk song-like, partly unpoetical 
bad poems from the camps, above all the 'Moor Soldiers'. 92 [. . .] Eva played the 
Beethoven funeral march as introduction and then accompanied Frau Ulrich in 
a number of Schubert and Mendelssohn lieder. 

[...] 


20th September, Thursday morning 

[...] 

Vogel plagues me, gives me a lot of bother [. . .], and I cannot help him. Vogel, 
Weisbach (the pharmacist), Jung, Schnauder (the Schliiter clerk), Bauer, Frau 
Paul: I have already had to give testimonials of philo-Semitism for all of them. 
And twice already I have had to refuse such a testimonial. And now Schemer, 
too, in his short letter, which crossed my letter to him, writes: if the Ministry 
asks you for information about me 

A first bit of LTI has been typed: 'Poverty of the LTI'. But now I want to go 
through the mass of my diary once again with the typewriter beside me and 
first of all excerpt and put together everything that belongs with the LTI. It's 
possible, probable even, that in doing so one or other article will emerge already 
halfway finished - so now I want right away to type the Rousseau beginning of 
the fanaticism section - but there must everywhere remain room for additions, 
and there is no question of an immediate completion of the manuscript. 


24th September, Monday, morning and later 

[...] 

. . . meanwhile the ground beneath my feet is doubly shaky, 
a) the Kuhn case, ever more poisonous - only chance saved me yesterday. 
Ceremony (23 Sept.) in the Faunpalast, big cinema, Leipzigerstr., to inaugurate 
the Kulturbund, the announcement had been in the previous day's newspaper, 
Kuhn's name immediately after mine. Accompanied by Seidemann I got there 
late - it had been unclear whether summer time was still in force in Dresden or 
winter time as already in Berlin. Hall only f full, Menke-Gluckert's speech the 
usual worthy lemonade ('Noble is man, helpful and good' 93 and similar 
quotations), [...]- the whole thing shabby. On leaving I bumped into Nestler. 
He had written to ask for the title of the France lectures to be changed, I wanted 
to call on him today, Monday. He: my lectures had been cancelled, there had 


56 


The Lesser Evil 


been discussion of the Kuhn case, it was to be 'clarified' first. I said that was a 
piece of 'boundless effrontery' and insisted on immediate clarification. Prof. 
Wachs., who was present, was fetched, and in the middle of the foyer, while 
loads of acquaintances were streaming past and shaking hands [. . .] I indignantly 
explained the issue to him. He immediately took my side, we were companions 
in adversity . . . This morning [. . .] I spoke to him once again at Nestler's. Mutual 
ingratiation. [. . .] At the People's High School I shall now provisionally give a 
seminar course of five one-hour sessions: How language went astray in the 
Hitler Reich (idiotic botch of the LTI title!). 

b) the one cause of the ground shaking is the hostility of the Kuhn supporters, 
therefore, for Wachs said quite openly, the 'polemic' against Kuhn had had such 
an effect on him, he could not understand why Janentzky had defended him 
so forcefully. [. . .] The other cause of the ground shaking: yesterday afternoon 
we had invited the Windes and the Kreisler-Weidlich couple for tea and had a 
cake ready for these 4 people, which the Wolffs had baked here from our 
supplies. Instead of 4 people, seven appeared - pauvre gateau!: 94 Elsa Kreidl, one 
of the Winde twins, who has come back, 95 and Dr Kussi. Winde said: 'The 
prospects for you are not very favourable. The Russians only want to open 3 
technical departments at the TH and nothing else at all/ What will become of 
my abolished chair? Winde related that he is already receiving a civil-service 
salary. Everyone is finding a place, except me. Kussi related ghastly things about 
Auschwitz. A selection was made on arrival of every transport: all people under 
16 and over 45, all mothers of small children, all those wearing spectacles, all 
those evidently sickly were picked out. These were gassed immediately. Dr Kussi, 
mid-30s, very obliging, is a Czech citizen, often travels to Prague, from there he 
can forward post abroad, but not if it is written in German. I gave him a few 
lines in French for Hilde Jonson. 96 I found it terribly hard to form the French 
sentences. - Kussi said that the Hirschel family, taken from Theresienstadt to 
Auschwitz, had undoubtedly been completely exterminated, husband, wife, 2 
boys. 

[...] 

The Allied law 'for the purpose of the ending and prevention of military 
training in any form on the territory of Germany' is as harsh as it is terribly 
elastic. One paragraph states, that the following are forbidden: 'Lectures, films, 
plays and wireless broadcasts about military actions, which glorify the warlike 
and similar characteristics of the German nation, individual units or individual 
persons (sic).' Anything can be done with that. And the crime 'is subject to any 
sentence, including the death sentence, at the discretion of the court' (of an 
Allied military court). 


28th September , Friday forenoon 

[...] 

Now I have to attend to the lecture for the 'Teachers' Union'. A curious story. 
About two weeks ago, I received a communication from Schools Inspector 
Sachse, as chairman of the teachers' section within the general 'Free Trade 


September 1945 


57 


Union', asking whether I was willing to tackle the subject of which branch of 
scholarship had suffered most under Nazism, as part of a big political instruction 
course (the words themselves to be avoided) for Dresden teachers. A series of 
speakers on this and that subject, a couple of respected people, Menke-Gluckert 
among them, I think, were mentioned. I talked to Forbrig, now my constant 
adviser. I said the subject was impossible, a) because I cannot talk about all 
branches of scholarship as an expert, b) because in principle all branches of 
scholarship have been robbed of their scholarly character by Nazi doctrine. 
Forbrig retorted: it was a very good cause, I should definitely speak. The audience 
was the whole of the teaching profession, elementary, lower and higher schools. 
Each lecture would be given 3x, each time to around 300 people. The proposal 
was clumsily put, Sachse would be just as satisfied with a different formulation 
of the subject, I should talk to him. He, Forbrig, would arrange for us to meet 
on Monday morning at 10 in Melanchthonstr. I got there, found a little band 
of besiegers outside S.'s office, who were being intimidated by a coarse doorman. 

I announced myself with authority, the doorman was recalcitrant, I snapped at 
him, he would be called to account, he roared, he had been in a concentration 
camp and did not let anyone order him around - 1 went away having achieved 
nothing and feeling very depressed. (Embarrassing scene in front of the audience 
of teachers, some of whom knew me. At his: he had been in a concentration 
camp, I burst out with the only half true: T too!' At which he: Tell me, which 
camp! Whereupon I gave up the struggle.) Forbrig pacified me. He brought me 
Sachse's heartfelt apologies. There had been repeated unpleasant scenes with 
this attendant. The man really had been a concentration-camp inmate, was 
disturbed, bullied the public, was quite unsuitable for his post. But the KPD 
insisted on him keeping it, there was nothing else for him at the moment, and 
the non-party Sachse was powerless against the KPD. (Forbrig added mys- 
teriously, this man was needed for 'shots in the back of the head'. I: is this to 
be taken literally? And who here is ordering shots in the back of the head? And 
don't the Russians have their own men for that? Forbrig: it was to be taken 
literally, and he could not say any more about it! F., an old SPD man, on the 
whole temperate and not a wind-bag, certainly no Commie basher!) He, Forbrig, 
could conduct the negotiations with Sachse. My suggestion 'National Socialism 
and Scholarship' was definitely right, Sachse would write to me with further 
details. Now I am going over in my mind, how to fill an hour on the subject, 
because in the end the whole business can be dealt with in two sentences. Either 
one is objective or 'fanatical'. Forbrig's 'one cannot be objective' must be 
cordoned off by: one must have the ideal of objectivity. 

[..J 

In the last few years there was often talk of a colour film which displayed 
great technical progress: 'The Woman of My Dreams'. 97 Eva very much wanted to 
see it, but she never wanted to go alone, because I was not admitted. Now this 
film has again been around for a while, but we never have the time. Something 
like that takes up a whole afternoon nowadays. Finally E. said with some 
emotion, since the celebrations for the 'victims of Fascism' were in full swing, 
to see this film would be our own private celebration: for the first time together 


58 


The Lesser Evil 


again in a Dresden cinema. So on Wednesday we went to the Capitol in Freiberg 
[...]. The colours really were very nice and discreet. But the film itself was a 
disappointment. An empty and outmoded costume revue and operetta. [. . .] 
The high mountain sets obviously cardboard. Dances in the style of the Monopol 
Theatre before 1914 (cancan), circus and USA style adventure. No progress. No 
content, no acting proficiency. 

[•••] 

We are shivering terribly and without hope in very autumnal weather: the 
Coal Office has still not responded to our coke application, and the little iron 
stove bought for emergencies has still not been connected. 

Everything is at a standstill, is in doubt, chaotic - in the house, in my 
profession, in every respect. 


30th September ; Sunday morning 

Yesterday evening from 7-9.30 there was no electricity for 2\ hours, whereas 
usually the misfortune lasts for \\ hours. We had not got the gipsy stove in the 
garden working in time, gas was naturally off as well. We sat in the dark, starved 
and waited. This loss of working time, as I said, we have almost daily. 

Yesterday at 12.30 p.m. the Dolzschen group moved off in a column with a 
red flag from the public house up in the village. A ceremony for the 'victims of 
fascism' on Karl Marxplatz (formerly Wilhelmplatz; on the tram I heard a young 
woman say indignantly: 'if it had been called Hitlerplatz! But what did Wilhelm 98 
do to them?' Vox populi - voces populi). The two of us went as far as the 
Plauenschen Ring, where a couple of hundred people from other groups were 
already drawn up. I (not E.) was on such a demonstration for the first time in 
my life. Beside me engineer Schlegel, elderly gentleman who represents the 
Liberal Democrats here [...]. I said, in my thinking I was a Democrat, but first 
of all there had to be a clean-up. [. . .] In the column of demonstrators, they had 
to walk the whole way, the pg couple Dr Konig. [. . .] 

The Food Office has rejected the heavy worker's card for E. Now Seidemann, 
whom I called on the day before yesterday during the usual evening interruption 
in electricity, has written me a couple of lines for the office at which the 'victims 
of Fascism' are registered. If we are accepted, and Seidemann says that will be a 
formality, then we will get privileges. Besides, the broadcasts from Berlin are 
full of fine words advocating compensation for the small saved remnant of Jews 
(they say 5% saved out of half a million). Perhaps that will help me. [. . .] 
Schlegel reported: in factory council elections at the Leuna chemical plant, 
the SPD got 23 seats, the Democrats 3 and the KPD 1 seat. (But the KPD is not 
to blame for that, the Russians are!) 

[...] 


5th October , Friday forenoon 

Yesterday at last an undisturbed (or disturbed only by the terrible cold of the 
unheated house) day of typing. I am now excerpting the LTI from the diaries; 


October 1945 


59 


perhaps that will be a help - at least it provides me with material for talks and 
trifles. The whole of the rest of the week from Monday on was completely 
occupied. 

It began on Monday the 1st with the municipal relief office for victims of 
Fascism (at Albertplatz [. . .]). Seidemann had given me a note for the head of 
the office, who is a close friend of his. I was to be 'registered', that would ensure 
me E.'s withdrawn heavy workers' card and all kinds of privileges besides. 
Typical: the management had changed; the new boss [. . .] did not even deign 
to receive me, had a secretary tell me, only political concentration camp inmates 
and activists are 'victims', I should apply to 'social welfare' or wait for the still 
to be established Jewish Relief Office. (Seidemann has meanwhile obtained a 
worker's card for E.) [. . .] 

From the [KPD] district headquarters I went to the State Library on Eisen- 
acherstr. Neubert had offered me the supplementary volume of my Modem 
French Prose? 9 of 1926 from his private library. I found him in a fairly depressed 
state, he more or less made me promise to use a little of my influence on his 
behalf. [. . .] perhaps they would allow him to remain a librarian; the Allies were 
merely demanding that no executive posts remain in the hands of pg's. [. . .] 
(with 5 and f words I promised help I cannot give. [. . .] Who helps me, me?!) 

Finally - all this in one morning! - to nearby Pohlandstr. where Fraulein 
Papesch , 100 not bombed-out and hardly changed, only even more shrunken, is 
still in her old apartment. Petit bourgeois elegance, all carefully dusted. My 
collected works are preserved there. Fraulein P. who now lives on private lessons - 
forbidden! The Russians allow only teaching of Russian and even that must be 
approved by them - lent me the 4 vols. Literary History, Modern Prose, Modern 
Poetry and 3 cultural sciences lectures of 1925. 101 Now I could start again, if, if 
I had my chair. It seems ever more threatened: no English and French teaching 
is permitted at the People's High Schools [...]. Personally the Papesch woman 
was very obliging, but, in accordance with her character, a little cool. 

In the late afternoon of this same Monday, I then also called on Neumark. 
Getting there was a penance. Unceasing heavy rain, and when I wanted to come 
back at 7.30, the electricity was cut, I had to go from Reickerstr. almost to 
Burgerwiese on foot. Then a tram came; but walking through Bienert Park in 
complete darkness was an assault on my repeatedly rebelling heart. Neumark, 
with whose wife I became acquainted, and to whom for a while I talked by 
candlelight, sees the situation in general, that of the Jews in Saxony in particular 
and my own quite particular case in a very pessimistic light. Claims on the 
Hitler state are not being acknowledged. The Russians don't take any notice of 
Allied decisions to help the Jews, and our Saxon administration is downright 
anti-Semitic; Neumark has had the most unpleasant experiences. In his case 
there is also an element of personal embitterment. A [Communist] town coun- 
cillor, Fenske, told him he had been 'middleman between Jews and Gestapo', 
such a middleman between Jews and administration was no longer needed. 
(There must be a Jewish denunciation or grudge at the bottom of it.) On my 
behalf N. intends once again to call personally on Menke-Gl. and Friedrichs. 

The Russians! The picture of Stalin on Albertplatz could be of 'Hermann'. 


60 


The Lesser Evil 


Uniform with medals! What Neumark, via his stepson, relates fits with that: 
Zuckmayer's 'Captain of Kopenick' was forbidden after rehearsals and passed 
again only one day before the premiere. Reason for the ban: the play ridiculed 
the military! 

Meanwhile at the London Conference 102 there has been open disagreement 
between the Russians and the Western powers. We shall be all the more cut off 
here from the rest of the Allies. Gradually no one has doubts any more about 
Russian despotism. A great misfortune, because there are those who view it as a 
belated justification of Hitler. 

[..J 

And someone else has emerged: Frau Streller has just written to us. Helmut 
Richter, 103 the honest trustee of my house, who did not return from Buchenwald 
and was missing, died in the hospital at Weimar. The man, barely forty, never 
saw his youngest child. I shall erect a beautiful memorial to him in my Cur- 
riculum. Which will not feed his widow and his four children. 

[..J 

Gunther Schmidt, who is matriculating in medicine at Jena, paid me a farewell 
visit. There and in Halle the semester really is supposed to be beginning now. 
What will happen here, to my chair? The uncertainty plagues me terribly. 

A card from Katz, he was in Kreischa Sanatorium for two weeks to rest, still 
has excessive demands placed on him . . . 

[..J 

One evening I went to see Seidemann. He is already employed as an auxiliary 
teacher - in Forbrig's school. Sitting in on classes for 10 hours a week, already 
teaching 10 hours himself after instruction. Practical months are to be followed 
by provisional courses - dependent on suitability, proper teacher training comes 
later. I am convinced, that S. will make his way here. I told him: 'You surely 
want to write at some point.' He: he was searching, one day he would like to 
set forth a Communism without the Marxist dogma. Once I would have called 
Seidemann a typical German idealist and seeker. 

[...] 


8th October , Monday morning 

Yesterday another nice cultural afternoon in the Begerburg. Ulrich and Eva. - A 
music group of mandolin, guitar, accordion. [. . .] In the evening, when elec- 
tricity was cut off again, Dr Konig here. We had - sadly - to share our meagre 
soup with him. He wanted to discuss with me, whether he should join the 
Christian Union [...]. I advised joining. He complained because allotment 
gardeners up here had been pushed out by Communists, although they were 
innocent pg's. He emphasised: Forgive us our trespasses . . . but he also talked 
about his fierce struggle against a senior cleric still in office, who had persecuted 
his, Dr Konig's, brother as a Confessing Christian and driven him to his death. 
So there! 


October 1945 


61 


Afternoon 

At the Coal Office on Karl Marxplatz, formerly Kaiser Wilhelmplatz, they were 
very friendly and quite helpless: there is absolutely no coke. Thus the Raschs 
will not move here, which is not really a misfortune. E. has already drawn up 
her plan for the winter: the bedroom will become the kitchen, we shall live 
entirely in the music room, which at the moment is still a shop. 


10th October , Wednesday morning 

I made every effort to celebrate my birthday yesterday with a cheerful heart. I 
did not quite manage it - my situation looks far too much like that of a has- 
been and my heart is far too rebellious. Nevertheless, it was different from the 
last 12 years. 

The Wolffs and Trude Ohlmann behaved very touchingly. They belong 
together insofar as the W.'s (both) have made contact with Trude Ohl. on one 
of their mysterious business trips to Leipzig and Thuringia. Trude overwhelmed 
me, partly by post and partly via the Wolffs, who just came back from Leipzig 
yesterday, with letters, congratulations, presents from her boy's things; she is 
still hoping for his return - she also sent me his picture in flying suit and with 
parachute in front of his 'plane. [. . .] She sent shirts, pyjamas etc. She sent 
100M, which will be returned. She appears to be clinging to us with some 
desperation. - The Wolffs brought back a goose from their trip, which we ate 
with them as my birthday dinner, they gave me confectionery, two tins of fatty 
Russian liver sausage, a pair of gloves. They donated the cake to go with the 
coffee, which they drank here in the afternoon. An embarrassing offset, 
however: later in the evening a delivery van drove up here, 3 sacks of sugar - 
black market stuff - were hauled up to our loft. In the next few days they are to 
be partly exchanged for flour, we are to have a share in everything - but we 
undoubtedly also have a share in the risk of this trade. 


12th October ; Friday morning 

Semper idem: 104 everything is in suspense. In every free minute I excerpt from 
LTI. But there's no more than an essay in it. Otherwise I would have to read for 
a year and a day - and that would not be worth the effort. 

[...] 

Schemer is sending me my Montesquieu and my Corneille 105 from his library, 
Papesch sent me a couple of off-prints. (How distant it is!) 

I do not manage any reading - I do not quite want to give up LTI and yet no 
longer see any benefit in it, the topic is chewed over and thin. Every day I 
observe anew the perpetuation of LTI in LQI. 

The wireless allows me to indulge. 

The little tomcat Moritz does not look likely to survive. 

Constant struggles for bread. In particular the baker on Grenzstr. here is 
completely unreliable, again and again there are unpleasant scenes. Just now it 


62 


The Lesser Evil 


was only with very firm words that I was able to obtain a loaf, which I then had 
to share. [. . .] Yesterday evening we did not have a single piece of bread. 


13th October , Saturday morning 

Yesterday Neubert, the library director, came to me. A very pitiful impression. 
Thin, with thin grey hair, one arm, very depressed - it was twilight, suddenly, 
without ringing, he was standing in front of me in the hall, humbly, hunched. 
He has already been dismissed as director, it appears he will also have to go as 
librarian, without a pension. He is 53, looks older than I. I promised to plead 
on his behalf when I see Menke-Gl. - Am I doing right, am I sentimental? 

Evening 

In the afternoon first Nestler called. Wachs as director of the People's Evening 
School suddenly became impossible. He has been denounced as a pg and having 
been close to the SS. Even if this is not true, his shattered mental state was 
'insupportable'. Did I want to be his successor? I was Nestler's candidate. It is a 
matter of academic respectability. There were also other candidates. The whole 
thing of 'major importance'. Position of a city secondary school headmaster. 
Flattered, I agreed, but do not believe I shall be the one chosen. 


ISth October , Monday morning 

Wonderful autumn colours in the garden, especially the delicate Japanese maple 
in rich rose-red - a place of absolute peace here, when one comes from the 
ruined city and the overcrowded tram. The house, admittedly, cold and chaotic - 
the shop still not cleared out. 

[•••] 


17th October , Wednesday morning (and later) 

Very depressed. My heart gives way so frequently, that I see death very close. 
Next to zero work. I listen to the wireless for hours and fall asleep over it; I read 
nothing any more, I merely note a couple of LTI excerpts and the material 
shrinks ever more. And finally: my professional position becomes ever more 
hopeless. 

Yesterday the actual work part of the day - because afterwards I was completely 
washed-out and was not revived until about midnight by wonderful wireless 
music and that lasted until one and I'm suffering for it today - consisted of an 
hour spent in the State Administration (and the ghastly journey there and back, 
squashed and unpaid). I started in the cellar of G block with Kretzschmar. [. . .] 

Kretzschmar talked indignantly about the ruling Communists; they were 
shameless in displaying their new riches, cars, villas food ... On top of that 
their lack of education. It was repellent and very depressing. He himself had 


October 1945 


63 


now - a risk, taken with a heavy heart - signed up with the Liberal Democrats. 
It is very possible that I shall follow his example. - I then went to M.-Gl.'s 
secretary, asked for an appointment and shall be given a time in writing. Then 
to Principal Secretary Wetschke, a swarthy civil servant, whom I had already 
seen once together with Menke-Gliickert. Here I met His Magnificence Hei- 
debroek [rector of the TH], 106 gallant appearance, sort of French grand seigneur, 
languidly courteously offhand. He said, we must know each other from before, 
he had come here in 31 - but the distance between the two parts of the High 
School. I emphasised to the gentlemen with some vigour, that I considered my 
request for reinstatement mistaken, because legally I remained a professor of 
the TH. Both said I was taking a formality too seriously, no one doubted etc. 
etc. Only: first of all the Finance Ministry had to re-establish my chair in the 
budget. Heidebroek, in his fifties, 107 reported that they wanted to or should start 
on 1 Nov. He added nonchalantly, there was no hurry with me, there was a lack 
of rooms and coal. - I reported the People's High School offer, and that I 
would only do it as a subsidiary appointment. Both thought that self-evident, 
Heidebroek talked fairly arrogantly about the whole institution. The People's 
High Schools were shooting up 'like mushrooms' [...]. I presented my [argu- 
ments] pro Neubert and also, very vigorously, contra Kuhn. Point two was 
received silently and courteously, point one with lively sympathy. Wetschke 
immediately took me to a colleague, who was in charge of the relevant section, 
and whose name I have unfortunately forgotten. A sprightly grey-haired, typ- 
ically hearty Saxon [. . .] old civil servant - he said he remembered me from Herr 
von Seydewitz's time. In his room there was an at first unfamiliar, likewise grey- 
haired gentleman [...]. The gentleman greeted me with enthusiastic cordiality: 
'we all thought you were dead, it was said, you had hanged yourself in prison.' 
Gradually I made sense of it all. He was the librarian, Dr Assmann, just appointed 
Neubert's successor. [. . .] Assmann was there to plead for Neubert, who was now 
also dismissed as librarian from 1 Nov. The principal secretary was sympathetic 
but considered the case a hopeless one. Trade union people had demanded N.'s 
summary complete dismissal, N. was personally disliked. Assmann defended 
him as merely clumsy and stiff, but 'very upright'. [. . .] 

Thus I am still dangling, and even more awkwardly than before. [. . .] And 
since bank accounts were forfeit, there are no more offers from publishing 
houses. 


6 p.m. 

The whole afternoon today crowded with visitors. (And - lamentably! - each 
must have 'just a slice of bread' with his coffee, and we miss each slice, especially 
as E. now only has a worker's card and Steininger and Schwarz are failing us. 
Seidemann came for a piano lesson, just as we were about to drink coffee. In 
between there was engineer Schlegel [wanting] vocational guidance for his son, 
who has just returned from captivity. Then little Hilde Rasch. Then Peter Kalau. 
[...] 


64 


The Lesser Evil 


19th October , Friday morning 

Menke-Gliickert informed me by messenger, he would be available for me on 
Thursday (yesterday) afternoon (outside his office hour). He received me very 
cordially; mixed result. In the presence of Wetschke and after telephone con- 
versation with Heidebroek: I am now a professor once again, replacing an 
economist in the budget [. . .] like all civil servants I receive for the time being 
a monthly part payment of 200M, perhaps of 400M in October, like the other 
professors I can probably start in November. With that I now have firm ground 
under my feet. Against that: M.-Gl. has no powers regarding other com- 
pensation. I remain indebted, therefore, and financially as immobilised as 
before. And the Leipzig dream has evaporated. Above all because Jan is present. 
[. . .] But after that because M.-Gl. is very much a weak reed. T shall immediately 
appoint you honorary professor, if there's a proposal from Leipzig, but I can't 
interfere with the university's autonomy! Go to Leipzig, talk to Jan and the 
rector, arrange matters yourself!' (That would lead to humiliation for me!) 

M.-GL likewise weak-kneed with respect to Kuhn. 7 cannot undertake any- 
thing.' It will not be easy for me to maintain my position. Nevertheless: the 
really essential thing has now been secured, I am no longer altogether on the 
scrap heap. 

Earlier I had been to see Nestler. The People's High School kettle is still on the 
boil, but there are problems. Also a candidate, not very flattering for me, is a 
writer, Dr Seber, who had an embarrassing article in the Volkszeitung yesterday: 
the People's High School must encourage 'the value of experience', not scholarly 
knowledge, in addition invective against specialist knowledge, the arrogance of 
university teachers and similar woolly-minded nonsense [...]. It would probably 
be a very good thing, if I were blessed with failure in this business. [. . .] 


22nd October , Monday morning 

[. . .] even without visitors I don't achieve anything; too much tiredness, too 
much wireless. I don't read anything any more; slowly excerpting LTI is all I 
manage. In the evening (usually electricity cuts) I sleep and doze to music. 

[...] 

Late in the evening, while I was copying excerpts, my attention was caught 
by the Europe verses of the Nazi Bade. 108 'All is simple in the gleam of swords'. 
And on Albertplatz the picture of 'Marshal Stalin' - it could just as well be 
Hermann Goering. And the Europe poet was no doubt just as much a believer 
and just as sincerely enthusiastic as some anti-Fascists are today. And 65 out of 
70 million believe exactly what they're told, and another 4\ million are indif- 
ferent, sceptical, resigned, and acquiesce in everything, today in this and tomor- 
row in that. And who the half million are, from whom a dozen come to power 
and who that dozen are - who, who knows that? All the talk about re-education, 
reform, democracy etc. etc. is a fraud, at best self-deception. 

Seidemann had written a letter of complaint on my behalf to the relief office 
of 'Victims of Fascism'. I have now been courteously invited to go there again. 
'J'y vais 109 this aft. without illusions. 


October 1945 


65 


Without illusions, yet not really discontented, that is more or less my basic 
attitude in every respect. 

Evening 

The 'Victims of Fascism' business went hardly any differently from the first 
time. A Herr Loewenkopf 110 received me very politely and essentially turned me 
down. I had neither been in a concentration camp nor had I been a political 
activist. The Jewish question had not yet been sorted out. Nevertheless: I am to 
be 'borne in mind' - presumably with a Christmas food packet. But the heavy 
worker's card for E. was again refused. And our bread is almost finished. 

Trude Ohlmann writes, the Romance Languages and Literatures chair in Halle 
is vacant, Mulert deceased, I should apply. I replied: I would like an honorary 
professorship in Romance Lit. hist, there, but could not make an application 
myself. 


26th October , Friday morning 

Aggravation, distraction, stagnation, depression. 

Re-organisation of food ration cards places us in an essentially worse position. 
Thus far, as professor, heavy worker, that is first category. From now on there is 
very heavy worker, heavy worker and worker, and the professor is placed in 
category three as a worker. - Aggravation also over coal with an official up here, 
whose goodwill, furthermore, determines whether Eva receives a higher category 
card. 

More generally it can be said, and Neumark has repeatedly been outraged by 
this, that the Saxon state government's behaviour is virtually anti-Semitic. 

Most recent aggravation: the Vogels' lawyer has brought the 'Jewish professor 
Klemperer' into play to such a degree, that I appear in a most embarrassing light 
and had to demand a disclaimer. [. . .] This odious business is upsetting and 
time-consuming. 

Loss of time almost daily due to 2-3 hours electricity cut between 6.30 
and 8.30 p.m. Interruption of electricity also often in the morning. Always 
unpredictably and without advance warning. 

The excerpting crawls hopelessly on, my heart fails me daily while walking. 

[...] 

In a broadcast from Berlin the day before yesterday a most embittered talk 
against German desires for separatism, against Bavaria. I do not know, to what 
it was referring - but it was such a passionate German-patriotic outcry, such an 
independent effort, that we both sat up and took notice in considerable surprise. 
Because usually it's forever the same old song on the wireless: they say how the 
Allies are helping us, how much we have all become Anti-Fascists and democrats, 
how much is being 'purged', overturned, made better. They preach against every 
kind of militarism - and with all of it they fly precisely, so very precisely, so 
blatantly in the face of all truth and reality, as, the other way around, but with 
the same, the very same words - LTI = LQIH align, militant, true democracy 
etc. etc. - as did the Nazis. Is it the pessimism of old age, which judges thus? 


66 


The Lesser Evil 


But, whether I am old or young - that is how matters really stand. 

Yesterday while copying excerpts I was struck by the truth, the real truth of a 
Goebbels sentence, which now of course cannot go into the LTI book - inas- 
much as its publication is conceivable. I mean Diary 4/3/44 [The relevant 
passage was not included in the printed German edition of the Klemperer Diaries 
1 933—45, which was the basis of the English translation, see notes.] conclusion: 
Russian policy of imperialism, abolition of the Comintern, acquisition of a 
Russian national anthem. 111 O Marshal Stalin! I remember his speech at the end 
of the war against Japan: we have avenged 1904! 112 Heir of the Tsar and of Tsarist 
policy. I feel more divided than ever. If I were not a Jew, I would put myself in 
Freikorps souls. 


29th October , Monday 

[...] 

The suspension of postal services between the zones of occupation has now 
been lifted, so the way to Bavaria is open. Hence, and this is all the work I have 
managed in two days, I have written two long letters to Vossler and to Leo 
Ritter. 113 
[...] 


31st October , Wednesday morning 

[...] 

Fraulein Papesch and a certain Freya (Freya!) Strunz, sister of a classmate of 
Gunther Schmidt, have begged me, in the name of other pupils, [to intervene] 
on behalf of my former student, Fraulein Berndt, teacher of music and French, 
who has just been dismissed as a pg. The helpless mother, the usual. Berndt 
then came herself, a good person, and I can help her. But it's all pitiful. 
[...] Amusing is a mitigating circumstance, which Berndt advances in her 
exculpatory letter to the ministry: she had always done Mendelssohn with her 
pupils. 

Afternoon 

In the morning I was at the State Library, Eisenacherstr., to ensure the extension 
of the loan of the Sachs-Vilatte and the Lanson. The whole of literature is lying 
in huge boxes in Bautzen and cannot be conveyed here. The library is supposed 
to be moved from Eisenacherstr. to one of the North barracks. Assmann [. . .] as 
new director received me warmly. Despite Assmann's and my own intercession 
Neubert has now been completely dismissed and without a pension. Politically 
he was far too incriminated. [. . .] 


1st November ; Thursday evening 

Schwarz [. . .] called on us this morning, very bitter. The Communist works 
council had sided with a pg whom he, Schwarz had opposed, he himself had 


November 1945 


67 


been dismissed as temporary manager, the owner, Frau Braune, with whom he 
had a private contract, had also been rebuffed. Matters did not seem to be quite 
like that to me: nevertheless the arbitrariness, power and unpredictability of 
the KPD appears to be fact. And at all events one of our bread sources is stopped 
up. Schwarz says, the Russians are not capable of administering us well, they 
are culturally far too backward - the territory occupied by them and fallen to 
communist dictatorship was going to rack and ruin. One had to get oneself over 
to the West. [. . .] 


4th November, Sunday forenoon 

[..J 

On Friday I at last went to the TH. For the first time in the buildings of the 
new high school on Georg Bahrstr. Huge edifices, huge area, a whole town - 
but badly damaged. Heidebroek received me cordially and again made a good 
impression on me, he is matter-of-factly dispassionate. [. . .] When lectures will 
begin, whether tomorrow, whether in 4 weeks, is quite uncertain. The rector of 
Leipzig University has somehow offended the Russians. Too few people appear 
to have been dismissed there at first, and when the Russians sent a committee 
to purge it, the rector seems to have raised a lament. At any rate the notified 
inauguration was cancelled again, and since Leipzig remains closed, the 'little 
sister' in Dresden is not allowed to start either. That more or less was Heidebroek's 
account. [. . .] So everything remains up in the air. 


6th November, Tuesday forenoon 

On Sunday afternoon Frau Cohn and her sister came unexpectedly, we pleaded 
an invitation of our own and so they left after 'only' an hour. To make up for 
that later there was Kussi with his nephew, who is 19, was in Auschwitz for two 
years and is now being prepared privately for the school-leaving certificate. 

The Kussis must have oodles of money; he bought himself a furnished and 
intact house in Hellerau. 

K. gave (advance) notice of a letter from Hilde Jonson, which had come via 
Prague. I received it yesterday. In English, very cordial. Georg alive, or was 
still alive on his 80th birthday. She knows nothing of Marta. 114 The Jonsons 
themselves are not doing well - their business was oriented to Germany. 

[..J 


8th November, Thursday forenoon 

E. has got a spreading rash (lichen?) in her face; my sore foot, daily bandaged 
by her, sore since arrival, will not heal; my heart bothers me greatly, any walking, 
any kind of physical effort causes pain. Conclusion: we want to go to Katz 
today, although it will cost us the whole afternoon. 


68 


The Lesser Evil 


Seidemann requested a lecture in the Begerburg on 18 Nov. on the language 
of the 3rd Reich; so that will be the premiere, as it were, of the LTI. 

Principal content of the day apart from the slow-moving excerpts from the 
LTI and apart from the many visitors, domestic errands etc. is the wireless, time- 
wasting, a fairy tale repeatedly marvelled at - now Zurich, now Vienna, now 
Hamburg, now English, now French etc. etc. Omnipresent, godlike - greatest 
and real enrichment. 

Most important in the last few days. Radio Beromiinster: Reddar (that's what 
the magic word sounded like), the English ray invention, which allowed them 
to see U-boats and guide air planes by wireless, and gave them victory at sea 
and in the air. Inserted in the talk a piece of a Hitler speech, the very piece I 
once myself heard standing outside the offices of the Freiheitskampf: lls And if 
the war lasts 3 years - we'll still have our say! - and if it lasts 4 years . . . and if 
5, and if 6 ... we will not capitulate! It was his voice! It was his voice, his 
agitated and inflammatory furious shouting, I clearly recognised it again . . . 
And with it applause and Nazi songs. A shatteringly present past. And sirens 
over London and the noise of the squadrons. A tremendously varied impression. 
[To think] that this is past, and that its presence can be restored to the present, 
always and at every moment! 

The Russian commemoration of the Revolution, 7 October 1917, filled the 
Berlin-Leipzig station. The Germans are crawling right up the Russian a. Many, 
perhaps most of the good things said about the Russians may be true: the 
humanity, the justice, the success of the Bolshevik fundamental spirit. But here 
it is constantly being demonstrated to us through shortages, administrative 
chaos, daily outrages, arbitrary acts by individual commanders, officially sanc- 
tioned looting, that matters are in fact quite different from how they are on the 
wireless. Which gives rise to great bitterness and danger for the future. The 
equivalence of LTI and LQI, of Soviet and Nazi, of the new democratic and of 
the Hitlerite tune is horrifying! That fact obtrudes and intrudes everywhere 
from morning to night! In every word, every sentence, every idea . . . Utterly 
naked Russian imperialism! 

Cauchemar de devoir repondre a Hilde en fran^ais. 116 

Evening or night, 12.30 

Katz expedition; getting there the fight for the tram in wind and rain, getting 
back wind and darkness. But successful. E. and I, she in her face, I on my foot, 
have the same non-virulent eczema, she probably infected by me; my heart is 
unchanged since the last time, not worse. I had not been to Katz since June, E. 
not at all since our return. He welcomed us with great warmth. His apartment 
on Borsbergstr. is now entirely devoted to the medical practice - the family has 
been given a separate private apartment. He has a medical assistant and three 
receptionists; he is the real medical adviser to the Russian and the State Admin- 
istration, will probably become a department head in the ministry and have a 
big title. He has aged a lot, looks pale and unwell, but is obviously happy. At 
the same time unchanged in his whole way of thinking and speaking. His wife 
has reopened her fashion shop, we talked to her for a moment. He told us, that 


November 1945 


69 


one of our two Gestapo bloodhounds, Weser, the small one with the dark, 
spiteful eyes, the spitter, had taken poison. There is still no news of Clemens, 
the boxer, and of Kohler, the Jews' pope. 117 


11th November , Sunday night 

E. is sleeping after a lengthy washing-up. - Cold slushy weather - fragmented 
days - always new visitors, mostly seeking help. 

The enclosed letter, written after long reflection, replies very firmly to a 
touchingly clumsy, offensively fawning missive from Frau Hirche in Ober- 
lossnitz in the Erzgebirge. 118 They had read my name in the Kulturbund list and 
had been so pleased and had thought of us so often, and after all I was the 
guarantor of her Hans, who was still in English captivity. If I had not known by 
chance that he was a major on the general staff, and if it had not very recently 
been announced on the wireless, that the members of the general staff are 
counted as war criminals, I might have halfway fallen for the ingratiation. The 
reply is certainly firm, but it is also self-defence on my part. If young Hirche got 
to the rank of major on the general staff, then politically he must also have 
known to whom he was selling his soul. 

[...] 

Much time was finally also taken up by a double errand to the pharmacy. 
People were queuing in the little temporary shop on Nothnitzer, corner of Hohe 
Str. The eczema ointment, contrary to the prescription, had to be made up 
without alcohol; 'we have not had spirit for a long time.' 

For all that the LTI excerpts are gradually creeping toward their end. I am 
afraid of this end, because then it must finally become evident, whether I can 
do anything with them. I am not afraid, of course, of the lecture in the Begerburg; 
there's certainly sufficient for that. 

[...] 


13th November , Tuesday forenoon 

[...] 

Then to the TH, to Heidebroek, telephoned Menke-Gluckert in person. 
Chaos - the TH has still not had any instructions. Nor does anyone know when 
the semester is to begin. [. . .] I received an advance of 400M and the most definite 
assurance, that everything will now be regulated in a few days. Meanwhile - very 
welcome! - on Russian orders full peacetime salary will be paid backdated to 1 
Nov. It is, admittedly, not yet certain how much that will mean for me - but 
thus far it was always said, that the highest salary must not exceed 450M. 

At 12 in the evening, we were about to go to bed, a play by 'Dr Friedrich Wolf' 
began on the wireless: Professor Mamlock 119 . Very interesting and we were not in 
bed until about half past [1?]. 

After that we were late getting up today, and before I could even get to the 
bathroom, there was a man here putting down rat poison, and when he had 


70 


The Lesser Evil 


gone Vogel sen. appeared, and now it's after half past nine and I'm still unshaved 
and without breakfast. 

I heard Friedrich Wolfs name for the first time in my life from Grohmann; 
he told me in June, Wolf was expected back from Moscow and was to become 
education minister in Saxony. Yesterday on the wireless, we were told that 
Professor Mamlock had already been performed on x European stages. A play 
with a political point, the usual recipe and without particular depth to the 
characters, but very decent and done without being excessively black and white. 
[...] 

Afternoon 

The whole day is dwindling away again. Immediately after Vogel sen. Fraulein 
Berndt appeared and stayed for breakfast and until 12. She is now finally, but 
'until further notice' finally dismissed; i.e. all pg teachers have now been 
discharged - Jung jun. tells me: at his Plauen grammar school 26 out of 42, so 
that the place is at a standstill - but there is to be another review after the 
radical action has been completed. [. . .] 

After lunch I had to fetch coal slack here in the handcart [...]. After coffee, 
Weisbach, the pharmacist, came: his shop is being closed down now after all. I 
cannot help him. And then came the wife of an engine driver and pg from 
1942, a woman and her 2 children were being quartered in her kitchen, and 
her husband needs peace and quiet. Of course I cannot help, but I always have 
to advise, comfort, and the time is always lost. And now it is half past five and 
dark, and 1 have to fetch bread from down the hill. 


17th November, Saturday evening 

Seidemann, here for a while the evening before last, strongly urged me to join 
the KPD. My situation has changed fundamentally insofar as I must join one of 
the four parties, 120 if I am to be accepted as a victim of Fascism because racially 
persecuted. Schwarz had informed me of this new regulation the day before. 
For that we still need 3 attestations that we wore the star. Schwarz and I are 
vouching for each other. Our other witnesses are to be Neumark and Katz. 
Schwarz [. . .] is a fierce opponent of the Russians, he always hopes that the 
Americans will march in, and has joined the Christian Union. 


18th November, Sunday evening 

This afternoon in the Begerburg from 5.15-6.30 in front of about 100 people I 
gave the premiere lecture on The Language of the 3rd Reich', which has cost 
me all my (actually rather few) free hours since Friday. Before the lecture we 
were visited by the Cohn sisters, at the last moment Martha Wiechmann's 121 
sister also turned up; I did not recognise her, she was an unpleasant reminder 
of a world that once was. After that, weary and depressed, I had bad heart 
problems walking up to the Begerburg. Nevertheless, the lecture was a success - 
I got two invitations to repeat it to a larger audience: by Forbrig to the teachers' 


November 1945 


71 


union, by a gentleman I did not know to the KPD of a Dresden district; I begged 
to discuss the matter at a later point in time, at the moment I would be too 
tired. That was true, I was and am completely drained. I set down only a bare 
written outline on one side of paper. Of importance for my IT/ [. . .] the sentence: 
it [i.e. Nazism] is not, after all, as I had formerly assumed, something un-German, 
but essentially a cancerous tumour in German flesh, the final degeneration of 
Teutonic Romanticism. - After the lecture Seidemann gave me the forms for 
joining the KPD. 

[...] 


20th November, Tuesday evening 

I am plagued by a terrible head cold. 

My working day yesterday completely taken up with the two letters in French 
to Hilde Jonson and Georg (via Kussi - Prague). Depressing how completely I 
lack linguistic proficiency. Today went back to LTI excerpts. Again and again 
distraction through tiredness and constant visits. 

Steininger calls repeatedly, he brings bread and robs me of time. [. . .] At the 
moment he is more concerned with cataloguing his library than with his 
newspaper collection. I have to advise him. In him idealism is paired with the 
sharpest business sense, that in turn with a very genuine good nature. [. . .] 

Then beautiful Maria, Maria Kube was here; delighted at the return of her 
husband, who has turned from a harp builder into a postman, delighted that 
they have a small apartment of their own. She related, that her husband, 
radicalised by terrible war experiences, now wants to join the Communists, 
despite his Catholicism, and she was very glad, when I declared the same thing. 
She brought us home-made cake and invited us to visit them. 

The pharmacist Mayer, recommended to me by Glaser, and who would like 
to be an assistant at the TH. He, too, leaning towards Communism. I think that 
my joining is encouraging some others. [. . .] M. said that Glaser has become a 
senior provincial court judge (and that he had suffered a Russian assault or 
robbery in the street). Apart from a few remnants the Jews have been exter- 
minated, but these few now occupy 'key positions'. Victory - but at what price! 
Oh Yahweh ! 122 

[••.] 

Since yesterday my mind has been occupied with Trude Ohlmann's letter, the 
Halle business. What is more comical, Trude O's action or my response to it? 
She writes: 'You are on the list of those proposed for the chair at the Martin 
Luther University, Halle. Don't be cross, dear V., in accordance with your own 
words, I have personally whispered diplomatically in the ear of Eissfeldt, the 
rector.' Background: she wrote to me about the vacant Romance Languages and 
Literatures chair at Halle - I should display an interest. To that I replied, a 
personal display of interest was not in my line, she could . . . 'whisper'. Now 
Trude has got down to business. It is very comical. But even more comical is 
my inner attitude. What should I do with a chair which I would not at all be 
equal to, and which would deprive me of the possibility of writing my books? 


72 


The Lesser Evil 


And yet I know, that I fervently want it, and that the certain appointment of 
another will wound me badly. [. . .] 

The wireless, substitute for cinema, car, reading, has recently given me a great 
deal. [. . .] 

The deepest impression was made on me by a report on the resistance against 
Hitler at Munich University during the Stalingrad days of 1943. The appeals on 
the walls of houses, the leaflets; the circle around the philosophy professor, 
Huber; the beadle as spy and informer. Huber and Sophie Scholl executed. 
(Her last words: trust in God.) Basest tortures of her [sister] Inge Scholl; her 
steadfastness and survival. 

The application forms for admission to the KPD are lying on the desk. Am I 
a coward, if I do not join - (Seidemann says so); am I a coward, if I do join? Are 
my reasons for joining solely egoistical? No! If I have to join a party, then this 
one is a lesser evil. For the present at least. It alone is really pressing for radical 
exclusion of the Nazis. But it replaces the old lack of freedom with a new one! 
But at the moment that is not to be avoided. But perhaps I myself am backing 
the wrong horse? [. . .] But I think I must now show my colours. - E. is leaning 
towards joining, and I have really decided in favour. But it feels like a comedy: 
Comrade Kl.! Whose comrade? 


23rd November , Friday morning 

In a letter dated 16 Nov. (but which did not arrive here until the day before 
yesterday), Heidebroek writes: The document confirming your appointment 
has been accepted here. I request you to receive the same from me, so that I 
may admit you to the professoriate and instal you in your post/ 

I am going there today. I shall also today hand in my application to join the 
KPD. The very brief curriculum vitae concludes after a few dates with these 
sentences: T have never belonged to a party, but in my opinions and as a voter 
have stood by the Liberals; that can also be gathered from my publications. If, 
without any alteration to this inclination, as far as my fundamental view of 
philosophy and especially the philosophy of history is concerned, I nevertheless 
request to be admitted to the Communist Party, then for the following reasons: 
I believe, that to remain unattached to a party today is a luxury, which with 
some justice could be interpreted as cowardice or at least as excessive indolence. 
And I believe that only a very resolute left-wing movement can get us out of 
the present calamity and prevent its return. As a university teacher I was forced 
to watch at close quarters, as reactionary ideas made ever greater inroads. We 
must seek to remove them effectively and from the bottom up. And only in the 
KPD do I see the unambiguous will to do so/ 

I formulated and typed that until 12.30 yesterday evening. And with it I could 
be drawing my black and my white ball. It will certainly soon be in the 
newspaper. [. . .] 

[. . .] Seidemann came uninvited and soon Forbrig as well. F. brought me 
commissions for the coming Tuesday [to speak[ on the language of the 3rd 
Reich in the teacher-training hostel in Wachwitz and to the teachers' trade 


November 1945 


73 


union on National Socialism and scholarship in Trachenberge and Altgruna 
elementary schools on the 5th and 7th of December. It gives me great pleasure. 

[.■J 

My fingers are so stiff, that I cannot go on writing. 


26th November, Monday night 

On Friday morning Heidebroek received me very cordially. The whole admin- 
istration had just been moved to the Mommsenstr. student house, the whole 
administrative staff had just been '100%' purged (reduced by 124 people, I 
think) - there was even greater chaos than usual. There was no coal at all, and 
H. does not expect lectures to begin until spring. I asked him about the meaning 
of the sentence: ‘ . so that I may admit you to the professoriate and instal you 
in your post.' - 'Well, I greet you and hand you the document.' Did I have any 
kind of duty to attend before lectures began? ‘No/ The document (identical for 
all professors) abolishes all civil service rights: one is appointed provisionally and 
until revocation by immediate dismissal; for the present, pension and widow's 
pension do not exist, salary still to be settled. Nevertheless my appointment 
runs from 1 September, so I got another payment of 800M and am to get the 
remainder of the full salary (which has not yet been fixed) in the near future. 
Curiously ambiguous financial situation. I now have sufficient and more than 
sufficient money to live; but if I wanted to pay my accumulated debts - Schemer, 
Schliiter, Annemarie, ground rent and mortgage, I would not remotely manage 
with it . . . Next door to the student house is the Eratonen House, 123 where the 
General Section [of the TH] has been accommodated. [. . .] In a wretched and 
primitive library room - all the rooms there are furnished in a primitive and 
rough and ready manner - I came upon the dwarfish Kuhn, who stared at me 
without greeting, and I responded in kind. It was an awkward situation, since 
others standing around introduced us or said 'You know each other, don't you!?' 
Afterwards I met Janentzky, who was unable to contain his informal cordiality 
and inquired after my wife. I responded in kind, while inwardly completely 
retaining my reservations, said I would put my cards on the table, I did not want 
to deprive Kuhn of his livelihood, but certainly of his chair, I was determined to 
go to the extreme left. [. . .] 

[..J 

Ulrich, the singer, relates that the words ' Down with the KPD’ were on walls 
in Dresden-Neustadt. I shall be isolated among my colleagues and perhaps some 
day a student will shoot me down from the lectern. 

[...] 


27th November, Tuesday forenoon 

[..J 

Just now, this morning at about 9, a letter (the first) arrived from Munich, 
having taken a whole 9 days, half-puzzling, half- welcome, very brief. Suddeutsche 
Zeitung [newspaper], 124 signed Dr Kleinmayer. Greetings from Vossler, and the 


74 


The Lesser Evil 


undersigned had a 'publisher's interest' in my 'work on language', requested 
'communication by return of post' - 'the necessary conditions exist'. That makes 
me very happy. (The publisher here has evidently foundered on the confiscation 
of bank accounts [. . .].) That gives my LTI fresh impetus. 

[...] 


30th November, Friday morning 

Too much shivering, too many colds (E. and myself) too much distraction, 
constant doubt, as to whether something can be wrung from the LTI and how 
it is to be shaped. I have almost finished working through the material. [. . .] 

Official and officially cordial letter of welcome from the 'Dean of the General 
Faculty of the TH' [. . .] and from the section head, Janentzky. Simon [the 
dean] 125 does not appear to know that I already occupied my chair 15 years ago; 
Janentzky, as already recently in conversation, acts comme si de rien n'etait. 126 
[. . .] I have the most bitter feeling in my heart, when I think of my 'colleagues'. 
[. . .] Today I have to go to the TH again, to hand over a declaration about my 
party membership as required(!) by the government, the KPD will very much 
separate me from the rest of the professors. [. . .] 

The day before yesterday, when I gave Seidemann our applications to join 
the KPD, he said, more in earnest than jokingly: 'Would you not rather leave 
your wife outside, as insurance in case things go wrong again?' It is almost a 
relief, that no one can accuse me of going over to the victors; because the mood 
continues to be anti-Communist, and in Austria the Communists have just 
suffered the most astonishing failure (only 4 seats in parliament). Apart from 
that it is completely uncertain what this step will mean for us. And both 
egotistically and in terms of ideas, it is questionable whether I have made the 
right decision. E. for her part definitely believes, that today the KPD is the lesser 
evil and a necessity. 

Seidemann wanted to give me a 50M fee for the lecture. I refused, promised 
my services gratis for the Begerburg, merely asked for help with respect to coal 
and food. Which will do me lOOOx more good. My now dominant and patri- 
archal position up here is very very comical: Shining light of the KPD and 
refuge of all hard pressed pg's! [. . .] 

From Pfeifer up in the village we were able to buy (quite above board) 10 kilos 
of rye grain. The Hainsberg Mill, a long way out, almost at the terminus of the 
22 tram, accepts such small quantities as barter. As result of the arduous journey 
I got 7 kilos of flour and 2 kilos bread. The ride through industrial and hardly 
damaged Freital was interesting. Big Bolshevik decorations on many factories. 
Red bunting and flags, pictures of Lenin, Stalin, Marx etc., banners. Up here in 
the petit bourgeois garden suburb there is no sign of Soviet Russia. 

Yesterday morning, therefore, to the mill; in the aft. to the Kubes, to the 
family of our good Maria. Long way out on Kesselsdorferstr. Wretched house, 
but the apartment not so terribly cramped. [. . .] For the time being her husband 
is a postman until he can take up his harp-building again. A mountain of cake, 
we even received left-overs and two eggs as a gift. But nothing ostentatious, 


December 1945 


75 


nothing crude, also nothing obsequious; they speak ungrammatical German, 
but with excellent content and complete tact - we felt animated and very much 
at ease. The husband was an infantryman and with technical support troops in 
Russia and Czechoslovakia, finally a prisoner of war in Romania. He told us of 
dreadful shootings of young soldiers, eighteen-year-olds, who had refused to 
advance, he told us of ghastly mass shootings of natives. He, too, despite his 
Catholicism, is drawn towards the KPD. 


1st December, Saturday night (actually already 12.30, 2nd Dec.) 

Yesterday handed in my party declaration at the TH. [. . .] In Fraulein Mey's 
office I met Janentzky and explained to both, what had driven me to the KPD. 
Janentzky literally turned green, when I related details of the house searches. 
[. . .] Unfortunately the errand once again brought frequent chest pains in its 
train. How much longer? And I would so much like to go on living! 

At the TH there was a second letter from Kleinmayer. Here he is called 
Weinmayer, and his letterhead bore the company name Knorr & Hirth, and in 
between an explanatory letter had arrived from Vossler. (It took 2 weeks!) K. 
and H. are planning a series 'On the Psychology of National Socialism', and 
that is where my LTI is to go - Vossler praised me as a 'psychologist and 
sociologist of language'. There is another sentence in his very warm and some- 
what doddery and emotional letter which arouses childish hopes in me. 'I hope 
and believe, that your aspirations, as far as your studies and your teaching 
activities are concerned, will soon be fulfilled.' Could he have remembered me 
for a university chair? After all, for want of better, old materials are everywhere 
being used for reconstruction. But how do all these hopes and plans match my 
heart? [. . .] Vossler had a serious attack of heart trouble in June and was laid up 
for three months. He cannot 'manage much even now'. The unfamiliar gen- 
tleness and friendliness of his tone is presumably related to that. One passage 
sounds almost like a testament. [. . .] 


7th December, Friday forenoon 

In anticipation, as an autobiographical date: yesterday, 6 Dec., the city of 
Dresden offered me the academic directorship of the People's High School. Voir 
ci-dessous. 127 - In anticipation: there will be another anti-Semitic wave, even 
bigger than the first, and this time coming really spontaneously from the people 
as a whole. Because here in Dresden before 33 there was a Jewish community 
numbering thousands, it has been exterminated, there must be less than 100 
Jews living here. But how many of these few occupy leading positions! Lang is 
a minister, 128 Katz senior medical adviser, Glaser senior provincial judge, 
Neumark on the committee of lawyers advising on new legislation, the trades- 
man Berger is head of the plain-clothes police in Heidenau, and now I have two 
important offices simultaneously! 


76 


The Lesser Evil 


8th December ; Saturday forenoon 

Lack of time and much has happened, very numb fingers - today it is 10 below 
zero and our coal is running out. 

[■■.] 

On Sunday 2 Dec., we, together with the Steiningers, were at the Hanuschs' 
in Freital-Niederhaslich. An expedition, at 1 we met the Steiningers at the no 
22 tramstop, from Freital station it was then a half-hour walk through straggling 
industrial village suburbs, which are now part of the town of Freital, with 
views of the wooded hills. Steininger related: Frau Hanusch, the Theresienstadt 
survivor, was the daughter of a Bohemian-Jewish 'florin millionaire' and cousin 
of the late Frau Pick (from Caspar David Friedrich Strasse). Hanusch was the 
talented son of a peasant and she was his patron, making possible his art studies. 
The two did not marry until very late, she was probably already in her forties. 
She was in applied arts (embroidery); he was professor at the applied arts 
academy in Plauen, paints portraits and landscapes, is an engraver [...]. A large, 
well-preserved, but essentially unaltered half-timbered village house, which H. 
inherited from his parents. [. . .] Over coffee I talked seriously about my attitude 
to politics. Afterwards Hanusch showed us a large number of his etchings of 
dunes - I quickly wearied of them, E. was enthused - and photographs of his 
paintings, among them the humorous Porter with Blue Parcel, a fateful picture 
for him: the Fuhrer bought it at the Munich exhibition - inquiries were then 
made, with the result that the husband was dismissed from his post, and the 
wife, who was staying with relatives in Bohemia, was sent to Theresienstadt. At 
6, when we wanted to leave, a proper large supper appeared, a big meat dish, 
which derived from Swiss donations. That was normal for the Hanuschs, said 
the Steiningers, who are old friends of theirs. 


9th December, Sunday afternoon 

Curious, how we now find ourselves in artistic circles. On Monday morning, 
the day after our visit to the Hanuschs, Winde called. From Hanusch we had 
already heard the rumour, that Grohmann had been toppled as department 
head [...]. Now Winde reported: G. really had been forced to resign and would 
now become director of the Dresden High School of Applied Arts, which would 
remain independent of the Fine Art Academy. 129 There had been lengthy dis- 
cussion of a fusion of the two institutions. He, Winde, was very satisfied with 
this solution. He was hoping for a chair under his friend Grohmann [...]. Winde 
did not view my joining the KPD with particular sympathy. They were too 
barbaric, they were lining their own pockets; the SPD, whose views were close 
to his own, was more civilised ... We charged W., to ask his friend Hanusch, for 
what price he would sell us 2 etchings. Then on Wed. Winde came to my lecture 
in Trachenberge and was very approving. I had looked 'so young' at the lectern 
and was a born speaker, and the time, a whole \\ hours, had flown by for him. 

[•••] 

On Monday aft. (3 Dec.) a meeting of the Kulturbund took place at Leub- 
nitzerstr. [...]. When I arrived, late, having lost my way in the ruins of the Swiss 


December 1945 


77 


Quarter, I found about 50 people, among them the immovable Kuhn, Menke- 
Gliickert, Nestler, Frau Kreisler. Two overlapping things. What attitude should 
be taken towards the Berlin Kulturbund, which was demanding strong cen- 
tralisation and firm leadership for the whole of Germany. And what should the 
Dresden management and organisation be. In Berlin it was emphatically solely 
the association of artists and scholars; in Dresden 'the four political parties' 
were in charge, nominally at least - in fact Herr von Manstein was absolute 
ruler, thus far he had never convened the 'Initiative Committee' and entirely 
of his own accord given lectures on Christianity in the name of the Kulturbund 
[...]. The politicians [present] attacked Hanstein fairly brutally [...]. At the close 
of the meeting it was about 6 o'clock and completely dark outside. During the 
break Nestler had already informed me, that I had now been unanimously 
proposed to the city council by all 4 parties (by the KPD last!) [...]. Nestler and 
I left together. It was utterly dark and deserted. The ruined quarter lay quite 
deserted. It is considered very unsafe because of riff-raff in hiding there, the 
Glasers are said to have been repeatedly attacked. We walked to the station arm 
in arm and then along Ammonstr. as far as Postplatz. We stumbled frequently, 
once we encountered two policemen, otherwise not a soul. It was gloomily 
Romantic. 

[...] 

On Wed., 5 Dec., I gave my lecture on Nat. Socialism and scholarship for the 
first time. I noted down an outline and examples on a sheet of paper; it turned 
out well. Fatiguing journey to the 38th Elementary School on Marienhofstr. 
Vast building, in the yard a large gymnasium transformed into an auditorium: 
f of the room filled with benches, a very high platform with a wide red cloth 
hanging down, a long table [...]. I made the acquaintance of the somewhat 
crumpled, but friendly town councillor Sachse. 1* hour talk, considerable 
success. [. . .] Afterwards a young lady came up to me, to ask whether I could 
give her my ms for an article. [. . .] Since I had no ms, I asked her to call on me 
on Thurs. aft. Yes, gladly, then it will turn into an 'interview'. 

It was after 7 p.m., when I got back to Dolzschen; that evening there was 
some kind of early Christmas party taking place in the Begerburg, E. was to 
accompany Ulrich again. [. . .] When we got there, things were already under 
way. The hall full, long table festive with fir twigs. Forbrig on a low platform, 
partly reciting, partly reading a prepared text, somewhat poetically cliched, but 
quite nice. The history of Christmas. [. . .] Altogether anti-religious in tone - 
Christ can no longer be our ideal, he has no job, has no relationship to women, 
none to the family - F. read out astonishing non-Christian analogies to the 
Jesus legend. Some of it was absolutely new to me. Whenever F. concluded 
a section, Frau Ulrich, accompanied by E., had to sing an old Christmas 
carol. But only ones which did not contain anything really Christian were 
chosen. [. . .] This celebration was not organised by the Antifa as a whole, only 
by SPD and KPD. A KPD member [. . .], a young man, then reported what had 
been prepared for the distribution of children's presents and for the adults' 
party on 16 Dec. The children will receive toys and biscuits [. . .] the adults in 
the evening likewise biscuits and 'ample potato salad'. In order to be able to 


78 


The Lesser Evil 


join in, we had to contribute 10 grams of fat coupons and a tablespoon of sugar 
each. 

On the morning of Thursday, 6 Dec., there was a meeting of the committee 
of the academics' section of the Kulturbund in the engineering building of the 
TH. The convenor was an engineer, Reingruber, a young man 130 1 did not know 
at all; present were Simon, the faculty dean, probably in his early 50s, fat, well- 
groomed, calm, not unpleasant [. . .] finally Janentzky, very aged, very anaemic 
looking, very sunken around the mouth. Everyone was very polite, I evidently 
appeared to them to be almost romantically dangerous. I was invited to sit near 
the stove, my particular agreement was asked on everything. I said, I agreed 
with them entirely if they wanted to keep our scholarly contributions absolutely 
unpolitical - only, the professors could no longer be allowed, as in the Weimar 
years, to sabotage the policies of their state. [. . .1 Reingruber said, it was a mistake 
on the Allies' part, to spin out the Ntirnberg trial 131 so far and so long on the 
wireless. It made people numb and indifferent. That was also my opinion 
exactly. Then there was discussion of our contributions to the Kulturbund, of 
popular talks. [. . .] I: it would be necessary to come to an understanding with 
the People's High School, in which I myself had a strong interest. At that 
moment, on cue and as if pre-arranged, a beadle entered, Prof. Klemperer called 
to the telephone. Fraulein Mey outside: Schools Councillor Dolitzsch wanted 
to know, when he could meet me at the TH. A moment later I was speaking to 
him on the telephone. He wished to inform me, that the town council had . . . 
etc. He had wanted to come to the TH, we could save time, if I would come to 
the Saturday meeting at 2 p.m. at the Education Office on Melanchthonstr. I 
agreed immediately and particularly emphasised my great pleasure at the new 
task. I then informed my colleagues at the TH of my appointment. All that I 
required now was the formal consent of the rector and of the State Secretary. 
Indignation! We had every right to take on part-time appointments. Only 
notification (not, for example, a request for approval) of the rector, who passes 
it on to the minister. 

Then at 4 in the afternoon the journalist from the Sachsische Volkszeitung 
came; when she left it was 9 in the evening. Frau Dr Gerlandt, earthy blonde, 
quite a strange life, still in her 20s, divorced, 4-year-old daughter - proper 
Germanist and Romanist, student of Gamillscheg and Winkler - we gossiped 
shop. She did not know what had become of Neubert 132 - he had not been in 
Berlin for a long time. She had wanted to become a journalist, but had been 
rejected as 'politically unreliable' - as a schoolgirl she had been a member of 
the 'Red Falcons'. She had been a film extra in Paris for 2 years, had married, 
had lived in Romania for a while, had her child looked after here . . . Fairly 
confused and mysterious. She was in the KPD, was an editor with a monthly 
salary of 800M - but there was something not quite right about her Com- 
munism. She always felt a pang at the word 'comrade' [...]. She had no idea 
what the future would bring, she did not believe in the fusion of the Social 
Democrats and the Communists, after the huge defeat of the Austrian Com- 
munists, the Social Democrats here were also on their high horse . . . What did 
she want to write about my lecture? [. . .] What did I have to say about school 


December 1945 


79 


reform, how did I imagine the comprehensive school? - surely there must be 
sections for the different educational backgrounds! I: certainly! Only the primary 
school comprehensive, and selection from this basic pot made without regard 
for parents' social and financial circumstances. I am now curious how this 
interview will turn out. 

The second lecture was on Friday, 7 Dec. This time in the more easily reached 
31st Elementary School; Altgruna, Junghansstr. Seidemann called for me, we 
got there so quickly, that we found the hall still quite empty. But then it filled 
up completely, I certainly had the anticipated 3-400 listeners. [. . .] In the lecture 
I drew on the experiences of Wednesday and said immediately, that freedom to 
teach was not freedom to sabotage the state. Nevertheless a radical spoke up 
afterwards. Scholarship was not objective, but tied to the subject. I banged him 
on the head with the ideal of objectivity and the approximateness of everything 
earthly. The man [. . .] got no applause, I very loud applause. 

Then on Saturday, 8 Dec., I was at Melanchthonstr. at 2 p.m. for the meeting 
of the 'People's High School advisory committee'. I met Nestler, Frau Hoppe, 
the secretary, Krebs, a retired primary school teacher, as well as a slim grey- 
haired man called Kissling, an engineer, I think, and a somewhat stern and 
distant Frau Schwarz. Then Councillor Dolitzsch ushered us into his large, nicely 
heated room. Likeable, fairly hard man, about 50, dark-eyed, leaning heavily 
on a crutch. He told me afterwards: Had been a teacher and SPD official, 
concentration camp, ill-treated, close to death, bleeding heavily, saved by a 
transfusion. Simple and friendly natural language. I gave a short address: Thanks, 
pleasure, and now I wanted to speak quite plainly. Political confession, intention 
to tackle the evening school seriously, serious and popular, strict separation of 
lectures of a general educational nature and genuine university preparatory 
courses. [. . .] After that I had personal requests. [. . .] I explained my financial 
situation and asked for 'decent pay'. Referring to a list Dolitzsch established: 
[. . .] a headmaster [Klemperer's equivalent rank] receives a maximum salary of 
9,000M. The payment of two salaries is not permitted, you will, therefore, get 
very little from us. I was silent. Then Frau Schwarz - representative of the KPD, 
as I had heard a couple of minutes earlier - said that, after all, the 9,000M were 
allocated in the budget, anyone else would have got them. If I could not have 
them as a second salary, one could get round that with a private contract; it 
would be justified as reparation to a victim of Fascism; also I had to look 
dignified and could not - glance at my shabby trousers with their moth holes - 
run around in patched things! Dolitzsch: if that was the consensus, he would 
propose it to the council. [. . .] It was then further decided to request a secretary's 
salary for Frau Hoppe. I said a few words of particular thanks to Hoppe and 
Nestler. 

[...] 


10th December, Monday afternoon 

[...] 

On Saturday, at the Dolitzsch session I also requested a telephone and a car. 


80 


The Lesser Evil 


They will assist me with the telephone; as for the car I was told: 'Be glad that 
you don't have one yet. Only old cars are allocated, they constantly break down, 
and there are no spare parts. Also, on the road the Russians frequently confiscate 
a car. In the last few days someone who refused was shot out of hand.' 

[...] 

14th December, Friday morning (and later) 

I am brooding over and feeling my way with the programmatic lecture: 'Dresden 
People's High School 1946', the main points are clear in my mind. [. . .] I am 
especially pleased with my plan for the programmatic talk insofar as this work 
on the one hand benefits the LTI (youth movement!), on the other leads me 
back to the 18th century, thirdly really adds to my knowledge. In a textbook 
on educational theory, borrowed from Forbrig, I for the first time read something 
about Pestalozzi. 133 His 200th birthday on 12/1/46 is to be commemorated in 
the Dresden Kulturbund [. . .] and I- this was my suggestion gladly accepted by 
the advisory board - in my inaugural lecture [. . .] will go to the root of the 
Pestalozzi business, more precisely to the Encyclopaedia and Rousseau. 

[...] 

I spent one afternoon this week at Nestler's [...]. I sat in the kitchen with 
Frau Hoppe and she informed me about people and things. Of course for me 
everything depends on diplomacy. I want to make it clear to the KPD, that it is 
in its interest that I want to place humanism and non-politics at the centre. I 
want to bring Antigone to the workers, I want to be impractical at the centre. In 
sharpest contrast to the principles of my predecessor, Riedel, probably also of 
the majority of the KPD. 

[...] 

Mobius, my boss in the envelope factory, visited me; at first I didn't even 
recognise him, as he was wearing corduroy work clothes. His father will be able 
to carry on the factory in another location - he himself, as Party and SS member, 
is impossible. He wanted a testimony from me against the foreman Bergmann, 
who was hated by Jew and Christian alike - but in fact he did not do anything 
bad to me. Instead of this attestation against B. I gave a testimony in favour of 
Mobius and so he was delighted. 

[...] 

Would I accept a professorship? I am very much taken with this new municipal 
post. On the other hand the Kuhn affair is ever more awkwardly coming to a 
climax. I was at the TH today (dreadful heart trouble in an icy contrary wind). 
Rector Heidebroek, very courteous and pleasantly natural as always, reported 
that some panel of professors is to decide the business between K. and myself(!), 
it was not right that I talked about the matter in public lectures, something like 
that must be kept among colleagues! I: Kuhn was not my colleague, I had not 
mentioned his name in the lecture, I expected nothing at all of any consultation. 
[...] 


December 1945 


81 


15th December , Saturday morning 

Yesterday towards evening, Winde, who regards me as something like a gov- 
ernment undersecretary, was here. He brought etchings from Hanusch, which 
E. liked so very much and about which I had inquired via Winde. As friends we 
got two of them - dunes - for the price of 30M each. Winde himself will have 
them framed. My first art purchase, and my first Christmas present for E. for 
many years. [. . .] 


1 7th December, Monday forenoon 

[.»] 

Yesterday aft. from 5-8 [. . .] the Christmas party of Dolzschen SPD and KPD. 
A big room, too hot and too full, we sat at long tables, in one corner there was 
a decorated Christmas tree, without lights - though single candles were burning 
on the tables. 

Speeches by the SPD man and Seidemann [...]. A youth group performed 
various modest and harmless 'sketches' [. . .] a choir sang Christmas carols (with 
Christian texts despite Forbrig!). The main thing was the quite excellent food 
[...]. There had obviously been donations, in particular from the Braune bread 
factory. With a little pot of coffee, each person got a full-grown stollen cake and 
all kinds of biscuits, so that we even took a lot home, and then later came the 
advertised potato salad, for which we had to provide our own plate and cutlery. 
All very nice, but a little dreary nonetheless and very exhausting. We sat close 
to the platform, with us the Forbrigs, the Seidemanns, Frau Ulrich. 

Very depressed once more. My heart is packing up. Our heating situation is 
catastrophic. The Kuhn affair weighs me down. 

[...] 


22nd December, midday Saturday 

Out and about for days at a time. Catastrophe of recent days: the heating. The 
coke Berger left behind is finally running out. Now a cooking stove really has 
to be installed in the kitchen, and from there a pipe laid up to the hall. 
Wollenschlager wanted to do it, passed it on to Haubold, mentioned a Bastian 
company on Markgraf Heinrichstr. as supplier of materials. Yesterday and the 
day before yesterday I was down there with the most questionable success. This 
business has cost me literally two whole days. 

On top of that there was the sorting out of my salary at the State Admin- 
istration. [. . .] Neumark writes to me, that Friedrichs rejects every claim for 
compensation. On the other hand Assistant Secretary Weschke, with whom I 
was 'sorting out my salary', said that, with respect to compensation I would 
have to sue the state. He offered a higher salary, on condition I waived any 
claim. I refused to do so. I think that at some point the Allies will intervene on 
behalf of Jewish claims. [. . .] 

I have now received my pass as a 'recognised and registered victim of Fascism' 


82 


The Lesser Evil 


and on the strength of it a huge stollen cake and a tin of fatty meat as Christmas 
gift. [. . .] 

The fine blue material, which I bought from Jung in the summer for 100M, 
is now going to be made into a suit by young Anders, the Seidemanns' neighbour 
and a tailor - for 75M. It will be the most expensive suit in my life. 

[...] 


23rd December , Sunday morning 

I take note of the name Herbert Gute. 134 First Hanusch mentioned him as 
Grohmann's successor and permanent secretary in the state government. Then 
I came across his name in the programme of the PHS [People's High School], 
giving a lecture on 'Imperialism'. Yesterday a certain Liebmann 135 called on me, 
recommended by his friend and fellow party member, Gute (KPD), to teach at 
the PHS. We sounded one another out [...]. Liebmann, writer and dramatist 
(he as ignorant of me, as I of him), would like to lecture on Nietzsche. I set forth 
my PHS plan, we talked about university professorships, the Klihn case, the 
KPD and the intelligentsia . . . Liebmann is going to arrange a meeting between 
Gute, Liebmann, Frau Schwarz, myself. My egoistical ulterior motive is always 
the university chair. [. . .] 


26th December, Wednesday morning 

I thought Christmas would give me a special thrill this time - the tremendous 
contrast to Christmas 1944! At the last moment my mood was considerably 
soured. Fraulein Weidel, the librarian at the Leipzig Deutsche Bucherei, who 
lives here and is Trude Ohlmann's messenger, brought me [. . .) the bad news. 
'You wrote the article in the Volkszeitung, didn't you, professor? My father 
immediately said it could only be you.' The Christmas number came later, and 
then I saw the fine mess for myself, 'Leap over the Abyss'. 136 The Gerlandt 
woman writes about a well-known academic, dismissed because of his race, who 
is now working on the French 18th century and on the LTI, all in the first 
person of the man thus characterised. 'I was in a prison cellar. Again and again 
my hand chased woodlice and spiders from my face . . .' a whole paragraph like 
this, undoubtedly copied from a trashy novel! There must be at least 100 people 
in Dresden who, although I am not mentioned by name, nevertheless identify 
me with the narrator. To them I have not only been held up to ridicule, but 
made to look impossible. How do I face the hostile professors at the TH, how, 
as director of the People's High School, fight against hollow phrases? But if I 
demand a public denial, I make the matter even worse. I am at a loss. I want to 
talk about it to everyone I meet. Thus far I have discussed it only with Sei- 
demann. He had read the thing, recognised me immediately and really believed 
that I myself had written it and expressed my own experience 'a little oddly'. 

But subsequently Christmas Eve turned out very nice after all. For the first 
time in years I was able to give E. something. The two engravings by Hanusch, 
two heavy hammers, a painfully heavy crowbar (carried down from the village 


December 1945 


83 


smithy with some difficulty - my heart provides a very doleful accompaniment 
to all my pleasures). On top of that there are the rhododendrons. Then we were 
guests of the Wolffs for a late supper. A little tree without candles in our home, 
a tree with candles and decorations in theirs. [. . .] In the course of the evening 
I drank eleven schnapps and held them remarkably well and without after- 
effects. (The things one can be proud of!) The W's are poor devils. He has to 
belong to a party, otherwise he can neither be registered as a victim of Fascism, 
nor buy a hotel, nor lease a cinema. He wants to do that in any event, in order 
to get his fortune, which is quite unsafe as cash, out from under the mattress 
and into safely. Where did he get this fortune, what does he live on? 'On the 
Russians,' he says. But what business does he do with them? a mystery! In May 
he played a leading role in the KPD up here, at the same time, with the aid of 
the Russians, treated the comrades, in particular Scholz, roughly. Now they are 
presenting the reckoning, refusing to admit him to the Party, refusing him sole 
ownership of the disputed apartment. [. . .] The Dolzschen KPD has refused to 
admit Wolff, and we made ourselves at home with the Wolffs on Christmas Eve 
and yet again for lunch yesterday and for the afternoon. And now (in his and 
my interest) Wolff wants to take over the mortgage on our house at 3\%. Hence 
this whole story is in some degree embarrassing and depressing [...]. 

Compensation for the abyss article was a letter from Knorr & Hirth: agreement 
to my LTI plan ('Between Scholarship and Life'), 300 pp at my disposal. Now I 
am constantly turning over in my mind: to what extent pure LTI, to what 
extent expand into Curriculum? [. . .] But first the lecture for the PHS has to be 
done. [. . .] 

The wireless is broadcasting a great quantity of religious Christmas music 
and Protestant and Catholic services. Russia evidently cannot do enough to 
emphasise its religious tolerance. On the other hand, morning gymnastics have 
been dropped for weeks now. And recently, when I wanted to have Dr Katz for 
sport hygiene at the PHS, Dolitzsch told me, all sport had recently been for- 
bidden by the Allies. I repeatedly ask myself whether this is the right way, at 
the same time as their own militarism is being intensified, to achieve the true, 
spiritual disarmament of Germany. 

Because of this and because of the systematic brutality of the 'purging' I feel 
the ground shaking beneath my feet. One day we shall have revolt against the 
outside [world] and civil war at home. 


27th December , Thursday evening 

At the Steiningers' yesterday afternoon. Together with the Hanuschs and the 
Windes. Each party received a loaf as a Christmas present. Overheated room, 
somewhat scanty hospitality with tea, a little boring. I beseeched them to tell 
others I was not responsible for the newspaper article. 

This aft. the Windes and Frau Kriesler here. Boring and tiring, the same 
conversations as the day before. Except that I raged at Kreisler, when she 
mentioned my 'fine article' in the newspaper. [. . .] 


84 


The Lesser Evil 


In the morning Dr Dressel here by bike. 'Wave of arrests' in Pirna. Dressel 
belonged to the SA ( not the Party) until 43. [. . .] I gave him an attestation, like 
the one I had drawn up for Schemer: at considerable risk to himself he had 
sheltered me during my flight. That should help. - I heard what the other side 
had to say. Annemarie Kohler's brother is among those expropriated by the land 
reform, is in a camp (was a Stahlhelm 137 man and against Hitler). [. . .] 


29th December , Saturday morning 

Yesterday lunchtime Nestler sent Comrade Naundorf along with me to the 
district headquarters of the KPD at Albertplatz, and Naundorf got me Comrade 
Leitner, 138 chief editor of the Sachsische Volks zeitung on the telephone. I made my 
complaint indignantly and emphatically. Leitner was very polite and promised 
redress, but not much dismayed, a little lukewarm and not very specific. [. . .] 
All the same I have now, in front of witnesses, lodged the most brusque protest 
and will so inform the rector's office at the TH and other official bodies. 

[...] 


31st December, 7 p.m. Monday 

Liebmann (cf. 23rd Dec.) sent a telegram on Saturday, he was coming out 
with Gute on Sunday morning. We really did have this conference yesterday. 
Liebmann hardly opened his mouth; Seidemann, who came up on his own 
accord as a personal friend of Gute, likewise. It was a very lengthy discussion, 
between two powers, as it were, between G. and myself. G. represents the Party 
and the ministry. He is in Grohmann's place, believes he is able to hold his own 
and foil the 'dirty dog' (sic) Menke-Gluckert. It was repeatedly emphasised on 
both sides: 'You need us' - 'You need me'. Position of the intelligentsia in the 
KPD. My PHS plan met with complete approval. In place of Krebs I get a KPD 
man as manager. That doesn't bother me. But I do not have any real confidence 
in Gute, although he makes a more energetic and concentrated impression than 
Grohmann. These unskilled workers do not see the difficulties on which they 
later founder. To me, Gute, too, spoke all too frivolously of a Dresden University 
to be built from scratch. And equally frivolously of a Leipzig professorship for 
me. [. . .] I should first of all put the PHS here on its feet, then I would be sent 
to a university. He, Gute, had long voted against me as the choice for the PHS, 
I had been the Soc. Dems. choice; he had wanted to save me for the university. 

Also, my plan of turning Kuhn into a librarian met with his approval ... I was 
no longer quite as swell-headed as after my first conversation with Grohmann. 
Nevertheless, the permanent secretary had come by car to confer with me . . . 
Wait and see how long he stays at the helm. I was also asked my advice about 
the Kulturbund. Today I am working out a programme of lectures over 8-10 
evenings on the 'Italian Renaissance'. 

Then yesterday afternoon 4 strong comrades effected our internal removal: 
we are now domiciled in the music room and the study has become a bedroom. 

Today, while I was giving Fraulein Berndt an audience, Alfred Seidemann 


December 1945 


85 


drew my portrait. I was aghast: a Sturmer 139 caricature, drooping lips and cheeks, 
Jew's nose like a trunk . . . 

My vanity was deflated by a letter from Trude Ohlmann: my PHS post did 
not impress her at all, my place was in a university. Very interesting in her letter 
her attitude to the KPD. She is a passionate anti-Fascist - but the KPD repels 
her. The workers are so hostile to her, 'a woman who wears a hat', there was 
nothing in common between her and them. And then: she would immediately 
be excluded from her circle, if she went over to the 'cloth caps'. I must show 
that to Seidemann. [. . .] 

Today I said to Fraulein Berndt, today I had some power, but whether I would 
still have it tomorrow, was doubtful, I felt the ground beneath my feet all too 
shaky. And that ultimately is my fundamental New Year's Eve mood. 

Still: this year! After all probably the most fairy-tale-like of my life. 

We shall bring in the New Year at the Wolffs. 




1946 


1st January, 8.30 Thursday evening 

E. has gone to bed, after already sleeping for a long time in the afternoon, and 
I, too, shall soon call it a day. The New Year's party at the Wolffs yesterday lasted 
until 3 a.m. after all and was very alcoholic, at once neither so very boring, nor 
especially interesting. E., already fatigued beforehand, recently suffering greatly 
from her dropped stomach, had a brief fit of fainting or weakness. 

From early yesterday there was snow and frost, which is continuing now. It 
does not chime well with our lack of coal and space. With somewhat of an 
effort we are getting used to the one room, the little iron stove consumes a great 
deal and yet only occasionally prevails against the size of the space and the 
frost. My desk stands against the terrace window and the out-of-action central 
heating. The kitchen downstairs is icy cold, and God knows when the planned 
cooking stove will be put in. 

[...] 


4th January, Friday morning 

Astonishing how emphatically KPD and SPD put the Germans, German unity, 
nationalism almost, at the centre of things. Yesterday in Berlin a meeting in 
honour of the 70-year-old Wilhelm Pieck (freeman of Berlin - founding member 
of Spartacus League!!). 1 All, including him, spoke as national patriots, Dah- 
rendorf, 2 the SPD man, even - a faux pas! - of the 'blood bond', the late Adolf 
Hitler would have been satisfied. 

For LTI there comes to light after the event: A witness at Nurnberg repeatedly 
talks of the FINAL SOLUTION, to which the Jews were transported, and means 
by that the gas ovens. Along the lines of human material, items. The com- 
mentator says, 'the terrible words' are constantly used. One of those ordered to 
put it into effect, so runs the statement, had been horrified. 'Don't get sen- 


88 


The Lesser Evil 


timental!' was the rejoinder. The basic attitude here: 'become hard!' and that 
out of racial principle, that is, out of Nordic morality. LTI. 

Terrible tiredness, endless distractions, no progress in the PHS lecture. Very 
cramped in the one room. 

Mood once again depressed by the tomcat. He appears to be blind - excessively 
large pupils, extremely unsteady movements. Soils the room, pity and despair. 
We are unable to decide on the 'final solution'. 

[...] 

One morning (2 Jan.) was taken up with a meeting in the TH to which I was 
invited by telegram. Heidebroek informed us that the TH, i.e. the General 
Section, must participate in the training of lay teachers. [. . .] For the present 
only this: the Russians forbid history as a subject in lay-teacher training! Kuhn 
was not present, our business was not mentioned. Heidebroek related: it was 
due to the Russians' antipathy towards officer students (and to demonstrations 
by the latter in Leipzig and Jena) that no university had yet started on Soviet [- 
controlled] territory. Moreover matters were no further advanced in the west; 
the shortage of coal made everything illusory. 


20th January, Sunday afternoon 

The diary has lived on notes for 16 days; there was too much to attend to and 
I very much wanted to get the 'Dresden People's High School 1946' lecture out 
of the way. I had finally managed that the day before yesterday, and then 
Waldenburg came along, i.e. the task of inaugurating a local branch of the 
Kulturbund there. I worked out a speech yesterday. The Begerburg lecture 
'Chosen Peoples' got a preface, 'Culture and Civilisation', which is to become a 
jewel of the LTI. [. . .] 

Now, in order, the 16 days. 

Throughout this time a battle with frost, snow, ice, heart trouble in the biting 
wind, craftsmen, haulage companies, lack of coal. The work on the kitchen 
stove is almost complete, that on the heating system is now to begin. [. . .] The 
6 cwt of coal have at last been got here. [. . .] I also got 6 cwt of briquettes from 
the coal merchant in the village. Despite all that the reserve is barely sufficient, 
the feeling of cold and the related worry great. All of that [arrangement of 
transport] also involved considerable loss of time. 

Master tailor Anders, a Party member, with whom, therefore, I am on first- 
name terms, delivered the suit. My first new suit since 1935 or 36 [. . .] the first 
suit which I have had made to measure on my own account. In 1912, when I 
was equipping myself for my studies in Munich I had frock coat and tails made 
to measure at Berthold's expense. 3 Since then off the peg. [. . .] 

But in the last few days Alfred Seidemann drew me: I sit hunched up like an 
80-year-old dodderer, tired, shaky, wasted away. A profile drawing looks a bit 
younger but like a Sturmer caricature. These were by now Seidemann's second 
and third drawings - all three dismayed me. [. . .] 

Further business of these past weeks, still not quite out of the way the 
compulsory inoculation against typhus, a little post festum, 4 since the disease 


January 1946 


89 


is fading. We first made an appointment with a woman doctor up here, there 
was a crush. So I telephoned Katz and then called on him at his apartment - 
Lipsiusstr., the only intact house; the two large rooms of his not very likeable 
wife's fashion shop - behind them K.'s simple bed and living room in one. He 
himself in his dressing gown, very thin, very tired, almost apathetic. He had a 
pneumonia relapse behind him, was to go that same afternoon to Warnekross 
sanatorium at Kreischa to recuperate for two weeks. I wanted to cheer him up, 
tried to recruit him for the People's High School, for the KPD, showed him in 
every way my feeling for him and my effort on his behalf. He appeared to me 
fairly moribund: he had no strength any more, wanted only to see his son again 
(from his first marriage, married in England years ago). It affected me. The man 
has waited as I have; now he has the chance of his life and has no more strength. 
Because of angina I received an inoculation exemption certificate. E. is to be 
inoculated or exempted tomorrow, I think: likewise exempted. That will happen 
in K.'s old apartment in Borsbergstr., which is now entirely a kind of clinic, and 
very busy: medical assistant, receptionists, office. The assistant will 'attend to' 
E. 

All this in addition to profession or the actual vita activa, to which I reckon: 
TH, PHS, KB (Kulturbund), KPD, school and writing. 

I like least being in the TH. Like in a cage of wild beasts. I know they are all 
my enemies. 

On 8 Jan. there was the [. . .] meeting in the teacher-training college hostel in 
Wachwitz. [. . .] Janentzky spoke on behalf of the TH. [. . .] Of the TH people I 
saw and spoke to the very emaciated and much aged Spamer, 5 who showed me 
such warmth, that I invited him to visit us. 

He came, too, and we became friends. He was professor in Berlin and as a 
folklorist aroused the hostility of the Rosenberg 6 and the SS people. Completely 
bombed out he then returned to Dresden seriously ill - it must be sclerosis - 
and is now to be rehabilitated here. He said he had always, without belonging 
to any party, voted Communist and was not at all shocked at me. - After that 
Tobler. 7 Small, nimble, very obliging, curiously enough already 66. He was in 
the Stahlhelm, his wife is Jewish. With some difficulty he had kept his post, 
had suffered much. [. . .] He makes a good impression on me. But Wildfuhr 8 (the 
great surprise of 10 Jan.) very much warned me against him. Tobler had con- 
cealed his wife's Jewishness, denied it, he had ingratiated himself with the Nazis, 
affirmed their race theory etc. 

A session of the KB academic committee had been fixed for the 10th in the 
TH. There were more people present than at the first sessions. Heidebroek 
chaired. [. . .] Beside me sat a young man, resemblance to Lerch, 9 he could have 
been an SA man: the hygienist Wildfuhr. - As I was about to go home W. was 
standing in a window recess by the exit, and we got into conversation. Which 
led to an alliance, which then, on the 14th, turned to friendship. I shall sum 
up. W., 41, 3 children, his career impeded under the Nazis, took his post- 
doctoral here nevertheless, KPD member, is provisionally administrator of the 
Municipal Hygiene Institute and professor of hygiene at the TH. Like con- 
spirators we resolved [. . .] to do away with the forces of reaction at the Technical 


90 


The Lesser Evil 


High School. W. said, that of the three pillars of reaction, the Junkers, 10 the 
army and the university, the first two had fallen, the third, the university, not 
yet. We agreed to telephone to arrange a discussion with Gute ... In this way I 
found myself at a meeting as to the purpose of which I had not received any 
information. That was on Monday, 14 January. It was about the KB Hanstein 
business. [...] Hanstein had behaved almost criminally, squandered funds, 
virtually embezzled them, got himself validated in Berlin for the Dresden and 
the Saxon chairmanship by providing false information. The Berlin general 
secretary, Willmann, 11 had come down, and Hanstein had been forced to abdi- 
cate immediately and completely; [. . .] a general meeting was to elect the new 
KB managing committee. - First of all a small circle met in Gute's room. Gute, 
Hennig and his secretary Dr. rer. pol. Blank and Griittner, secretary of the KB 
and a Party official. Later Willmann. Berlin's view, and Gute's, was that the 
management had to be unpolitical, placing 'culture', scholarship, literature 
exclusively at the centre. [. . .] Hennig strongly objected; politics must remain 
the key. It was decided to let the general meeting decide. A large room, probably 
80-90 notables and would-be notables. I knew Janentzky, Wildfuhr, Kreisler, 
Kretzschmar, Mauthner, Wolfgang Schumann, had Balzer 12 pointed out to me, 
saw Frau Hoppe and Nestler. Menke-Gluckert presided. On his left Gute, on his 
right Willmann. Central to W.'s lengthy report: No imitation of the parties - 
only culture and the arts. But he made a psychological error. Instead of saying, 
people didn't just and always want to do and hear about politics (which would 
also have been true), he explained: people did not want to join any party, 'falling 
for it once was enough' and now they wanted to wait and see. That was of 
course accurate, but was splendid material for the opposition. Those brave 
democrats Menke-Gl. and Kastner immediately protested, the KB was no bolt- 
hole for shirkers etc., here colours had to be nailed to the mast. Now Hennig 
was in his element, there was applause, and in a trice political and cultural 
people were elected, eleven in all, among them Gute, Wildfuhr, myself from 
the KPD, Hanusch also. The first sitting of this far too large committee is to 
take place on Wed. 23 Jan. 

For Wed. I'm also hoping for a preceding special discussion among us KPD 
people on the subject of TH and university. The TH is plotting something. 
On Sunday, 13 Jan., the teachers held a Pestalozzi commemoration. (Scala, 
Grossenhainerstr., a hall with a stage among the buildings of the Gohle plant - 
so this is where the bulk of the Jews did labour duty for the 3rd Reich. Beautiful 
Beethoven and Brahms music by the Staatskapelle. The much talked-about new 
conductor, Keilberth. 13 Pg - but since Berlin wanted to buy him up - he was 
kept here with a professorship. New and sweet to my ears during Sachse's words 
of welcome was the mention of my name. 'I welcome as representative of the 
TH Prof. Janentzky, I welcome the Director of the People's High School Prof. 
Klemperer . . .' [. . .] 

So before the beginning of the ceremony Janentzky told me: the Russians 
were now demanding a reduction in the number of our professors - and French 
was not even taught in secondary schools any more. I brooded over this during 
the ceremony and at the end said nothing more to J. than: he should not 


January 1946 


91 


misjudge the situation. As I did so, I thought of Baeumler's words of 1933: 14 
'You misjudge the situation, gentlemen!' J. replied immediately, that it was of 
course the bad engineers, who were jealous of the General Section. But the 
warning probably did some good. The following day during the KB session, 
Janentzky, glowing with friendship, gave me the copy of a letter, which he had 
handed to the rector's office. List of the professorships in our section. They had 
been cut to such an extent, that there was nothing more that could be cut. But 
I am extremely mistrustful of J. He covers himself with the letter and secretly 
tries to get rid of me. I would very much like to 'liquidate' both him and Kuhn. 
[...] 

Neubert, the one-armed dismissed director of the State Library, also visited 
me in recent days; he must 'earn a few pennies', did I have or know of 'any 
kind of subordinate work' for him. I cannot help. Yet my feelings are mixed. 
Kussi, who lost his relatives in Auschwitz, was here at the same time as Neubert. 
Kussi introduced his wife, a Dutch woman just arrived, to whom, on the day of 
her arrival, he was married in a registry office ceremony and an ecclesiastical 
Catholic one. A very refined, slim, bespectacled intellectual with [. . .] 'fluent' 
(so she says) strongly accented German. 

PHS: Griitzner. [. . .] Brisk, somewhat squirrel-like man in his late forties, KPD 
official, in prison with Gute [...]. So far everything is going well. [. . .] Griitzner 
wants quickly to get off to a strong start, then wait until Easter and expand the 
timetable by then. He has already got hold of 2 rooms in Melanchthonstr. as 
an office. There I shall have a consultation hour twice a week and have Hoppe 
at my disposal for two 3-hour sessions. She wants to do only intellectual work, 
have only press and co-ordination work. Co-ordination is her ever-repeated 
favourite word, by which she means finding out about the activities of other 
People's High Schools. Of course Griitzner demands more work and real office 
work from her. I played the wise Solomon. [. . .] Also, Griitzner was going to put 
pressure on Weidauer 15 so that I at last get a telephone. I really need it, and an 
application by the Schools Department on my behalf has been refused. Running 
to the usually shut post office is nerve-racking. - On the 18th I held the decreed 
lecturers' meeting in Melanchthonstr. A large school room. About 20 of about 
50 lecturers appeared. I brought Hoppe to take minutes; I summed up my 
principles. Griitzner on expansion of the programme. [. . .] 

Last Wednesday evening - frost, big moon, glittering snowy landscape, fan- 
tastic view down into the valley and to the hills - political meeting in the 
Begerburg. Comrade Liebermann from the information office. Against the 
rumour mongers, who gave the Russians a bad name, expect better things from 
the West, talk drivel about war between USA and the Russians. (That same day 
I heard from Frau Schmidt: 'Is it true - I am so afraid for our boy in Jena! - that 
there's rioting in Jena and the Americans are already in the town?') In the 
discussion afterwards, repeated questions about war (the people speak incorrect 
German, but they all speak without inhibition - 'all', that was at most 30 people 
in a circle around the speaker, shivering in the unheated room) [...]. Liebermann 
went on to talk in favour of a united workers' party, as on the same day Matern 
and [Buchwitz 16 ] had demanded at a mass meeting here. [. . .] Liebermann, a 


92 


The Lesser Evil 


calm, likeable (younger) man said very calmly and as a matter of course: if over 
there [in the west . . .] they do not join in, then 'we' might have to do more 
than just pay our dues and hold meetings. The very gentleness of his voice 
made the threat of civil war sound especially disquieting. 

Meanwhile elections in Hesse (only 3% for KPD) have also shown, that they 
want something different there than here. [. . .] 

A couple of days ago, on the wireless, Johannes R. Becher attacked Thomas 
Mann respectfully but seriously; he could not understand that Mann was not 
returning to Germany. [. . .] 


27th January, Saturday afternoon 

Sometimes very down: tiredness, my heart, uncertainty of the situation, very 
strong feeling of vanitas vanitatum. Then again great uplift and happy feeling 
of having an effect, of being recognised. One rendezvous was on Wednesday 
the 23rd. KB session in the meeting chamber of the State Administration [...]. 
As recently, preliminary discussion in Gute's room. Wildfiihr had fetched me 
in the car [...]. There were 'introductory talks' and similar speeches to be 
allocated. [. . .] In addition, it was suggested the PHS could be inaugurated 
during the planned 'Culture Week'. But the Culture Week has been postponed 
from mid-February to March [...]. I could not [. . .] find the nimble Griitzner 
[. . .] anywhere. I did and do suspect Griitzner of proceeding on his own account 
and neglecting me. [. . .] thus I felt myself very much pushed aside. 

Furthermore there was and is the recurring uncertainty about the LTI book. 
I cannot find the right order, the right tone. [. . .] Another friendly prodding 
letter from Weinmayer (Knorr & Hirth) has arrived. 

If that improved my mood, then it reached a peak at the State Administration 
yesterday. [. . .] I got into conversation (and use of the Du! 17 ) with Gute, and he 
handed me an invitation to the 'Central Cultural Congress of the KPD in Berlin' 
from 4-6 Feb. I am to travel with him, will be accommodated and fed there by 
the Party; all schools issues will be discussed before the Central Committee at 
least of the KPD of the Soviet territory. This could be my hour in every respect, 
and at all events it will be interesting in many ways. Yet what already weighs 
on me: everything that tied me to Berlin is gone or dead, mostly dead. [. . .] 

That morning the 'Du' made further progress. Apart from Gute, his no-longer- 
young secretary, Mattauch, was included and Frau Blank, whom I met on the 
way there. She is in the SPD, Hennig's right hand, a student of Gehrig, half 
Jewish. We became chummy. She is also new to a workers' party and has [. . .] 
like us, Du inhibitions, she found it easier with the KPD people than within 
her own party. She was very relieved, when I made a start ... I feel again and 
again that there is something a little comedy-like about this spreading of the 
Du. [. . .] And again and again I repeat: the Du of the workers cheered me up, 
that of the Gestapo enraged me. 

[...] 

Once, after a great deal of waiting and explaining and identifying, one has 
secured an individual entry permit at the gate house of the State Administration, 


February 1946 


93 


then it still has to be stamped at a special police counter. Recently a pert, curly- 
haired policewoman was sitting there. 'Don't you recognise me, Professor?' It 
was young Use Frischmann from Zeughausstr., who [. . .] ended up in prison, 
her parents were also arrested. 18 The girl and her Aryan mother survived; the 
Jewish father is missing, undoubtedly dead. 

A nice Du incident: I telephoned Frau Schwarz at KPD district headquarters, 
who supported me in the PHS salary business [...]. I addressed her as Sie. Reply: 
'For me you [Du] are Comrade Klemperer, even if you [Du] are a professor!' I: 
That is what I prefer.' 

[...] 

The cooking stove and the heating pipe up to the hall are now finished at 
last, but there is not the fuel to make proper use of them, and cold and lack of 
space are still a torment. The bill for mason and fitter will be large, every single 
bit (old, naturally) of the piping had to be 'organised', and the most expensive 
thing will in every case be the transport here. 

Haubold, very enlightened and altogether anti-Nazi, asked me: 'The Saxon 
State Bank, Arnhold owns it doesn't he? He's supposed to be here and to have 
bought the Prager Str. They say, it's all done with Jewish capital.' I talked it out 
of him. The Arnhold rumour has been around for six months now. Vox populi. 
What would happen to us few Jews, if the Allies withdrew?! 

On the wireless the evening of the day before yesterday: the Americans have 
permitted the setting-up of a Bavarian Royalist Party, which wants a Bavarian 
kingdom on the English model. This party will become the most powerful in 
Bavaria together with the Bav. Zentrum. 19 And that will mean an end to the 
unity of the Reich. Strange, that no one here has so far expressed an opinion 
about it. Except that SPD and KPD constantly emphasise patriotism and unity 
of the Reich. [. . .] # 


29th January , Tuesday morning 

[...] 

Rasch, 20 the smith, who had returned from American captivity the day before, 
visited us after dark. I tried to win him for the KPD. He was wearing bits of blue 
American navy uniform with shiny metal buttons. He had been held by the 
Americans, French, Belgians, often under very bad conditions, and fallen ill 
with hunger. He praises the Russians. Transport was working much better than 
in the West. [. . .] He had no contact with his family for a year [i.e. since 
before the Dresden raids], then yesterday stood in front of the ruined villa on 
Lothringer Weg and not known whether his wife and children were lying under 
the rubble. 


3rd February ; Sunday forenoon 

[. . .] At every step my heart troubles me: vanitas! - Thus the initial great and 
hopeful pleasure about Berlin has also completely faded, and I would, best 
of all, like to back out. [. . .] Apart from Gute and myself, 4 people I do not 


94 


The Lesser Evil 


know are going [to the Congress]; the car will pick me up tomorrow morning 
before 6. 

I have managed to write very little in recent days. [. . .] The long forenoon 
journeys - the torment of the trams, then worn out in the afternoons. Turnabout 
PHS and State Administration, Melanchthonstr. and Bebelstr. [. . .] 

Once in Vogels' wretched cellar dwelling - I accepted a pound of salt. These 
people are having an undeservedly bad time. Next Friday I shall seek out the 
new mayor in Plauen about their hopeless situation. [. . .] 

I am at last to get a new permanent pass for the State Administration; the old 
one had been declared invalid, getting a temporary pass at the always crowded 
control point is very time-consuming. Photos were necessary which I can also 
use for a new driving licence. (I have become so old. Everything preaches my 
age et finem to me.) 

Through the Kulturbund came an invitation to the Dresden premiere, on the 
afternoon of 1 Feb., of a German version of the Soviet film Merry Lads in the 
Faun Palast. Most arduous journey there [. . .] great disappointment. A washed- 
out, completely witless over-American slapstick film from 1933, in Russian, 
with a few strips of German words stuck at the bottom. [. . .] We have had no 
luck with the cinema so far - and I so often longed for the cinema! 21 Instead 
the wireless is now our great passion. 

[...] 

Politically everything on the Soviet side is now dominated by the idea of 
German unity, anti-Fascist bloc unity and SPD-KPD union. [. . .] But it does not 
look to me as if anything of these three unities will be at all permanent or even 
come to pass. Via Hoppe I got to look at a newspaper from the American zone. 
There the S PD wants in part to de-marxify itself, and in very great part have 
nothing to do with the KPD. [. . .] And the CDU may serve as Zentrum Party in 
the West - here it is cloaca maxima, refugium nazisticum and will one day be 
exposed. 22 

The transformation in me! A while ago when Wollschlager told me, he would 
like us to become a state of the Soviet Federation, I was shocked. Now I would 
like it myself. I no longer believe in the united German patria. I believe, 
we could very well cultivate German culture as a Soviet state under Russian 
leadership. 


4th-6th February, Berlin trip to the KPD Congress (noted 7th-10th 
Feb.) 

The five destinies in the car: The driver very young, very cautious, circumspect 
in every way (at the same time constantly smoking) shot down as a pilot over 
Sicily, bullet in the head (visible hole in his temple). Beside him Gute, early 40s. 
Originally commercial artist, essentially probably an autodidact. Very cultured, 
very energetic. Taken away' three times and given and served sentences for 
'Intent to commit High Treason'. Now permanent secretary, in fact after the re- 
organisation that has just taken place in many respects more powerful than 
Menke-Gliickert, as many decisions go via Fischer, (Deputy President, KPD) and 


February 1946 


95 


by-pass M.-Gl. (who, however, still has higher education in Saxony in his 
hands). Squeezed into the back of the car: Klemperer, Grundig, Laux. 23 Gr. as 
late addition wedged in the middle. My fate familiar. Grundig: 45, silver hair. 
KPD veteran, prison, concentration camp. His wife, Lea Langner-Grundig, 
likewise painter, Jewish. Allowed to emigrate, after already in prison, if they 
divorce. Do so, she to Tel-a-Vif. 24 He reads in a German news sheet, which 
appeared in London in July, that Lea Grundig had a successful show. He is 
waiting for her, and the marriage will be valid again - divorced under pressure! - 
but she does not yet know that he is alive. He was in a concentration camp. At 
the end of 44 a battalion is formed from camp inmates, given a few weeks of 
military training and commanded by demoted army officers. It is to be de- 
ployed against partisans [...] but is suddenly rushed to the Eastern Front 
near Budapest and immediately deserts to the enemy with all its weapons. 
('A couple of officers decamped/) Grundig is taken to Moscow, to a clubhouse - 
freedom, the best food, best impressions, is allowed to paint. Now designated 
rector of the Academy. [. . .] Laux's fate is the simplest. About 50. Music 
journalist in Darmstadt, is conspicuous as anti-Nazi because far too modern, 
Hindemith follower, 25 comes to Dresden, employed by the Dresden Neueste 
Nachrichten, gets by all those years at the paper without becoming a pg. On 
13 Feb. he and his wife were so badly burned, that both were in hospital 
until June. Now responsible for music and theatre under Gute, similar position 
to Kretzschmar. 

Together for a long time, and at such close quarters, I made friends with these 
people; the Communist Du - with which I inadvertently addressed Laux, because 
he is not yet in the Party, because he fears the accusation of opportunism - 
played its part. Gute and Grundig had friendly relations with Gusti Wieghardt, 26 
hostile ones with the Gestapo (Clemens, Weser, Kohler etc.). What an inter- 
locking of biographies, how strangely Gusti is now rehabilitated! Her Com- 
munist, somewhat primitive, children's play, passed on to Moscow by Gute, is 
supposed to have been a gigantic success there and in many languages . . . Will 
Gusti rejoice and be happy, or will she scorn me, when she hears of my present 
position? I said immediately, that we had many political differences in those 
days, I had only become a convert much later. [. . .] Grundig talked about Villon 
drawings he had made. I suggested an illustrated parallel edition, to which I 
would write the introduction. I am to give individual lectures at his Academy 
... [. . .] Laux very important for E. How curious that now - an entirely new 
phase in our lives - we have contact with art and music ... [. . .] 

On Mon. 4 Feb., Miihlberg, the driver, was already here shortly after 5.30, I 
was just shaving. Hurriedly finished, criss-cross journey through the dark city 
with its rubble and disfigurement. Gute lives in Laubegast, Laux near Karcher 
Allee, Grundig in Neugruna. I did not know where we were, everything was 
eerie. [. . .] We halted at the district headquarters on Albertplatz as it was 
dawning. Of the people who joined us there, I knew Sigrid Schwarz and Glock- 
ner. Glockner is the absolute proletarian, who repelled me down in Plauen 
months ago, and who is now in the Agitprop(!) Section at District Headquarters. 
He will certainly not understand anything of the intellectual questions . . . There 


96 


The Lesser Evil 


was a column of 4 cars, so presumably 16 participants altogether, not counting 
the drivers, among them a couple from outside Dresden. [. . .] We went on the 
autobahn. 'With four cars one can risk it, otherwise not, too many robberies 
and shootings take place.' The motorway itself unlovely and in tolerably good 
condition. Now only occasional destroyed vehicles, civilian and military, at the 
side. Just as we saw it in Bavaria. The landscape very bare, we did not touch on 
any town. I do not know what route we took. A couple of times a car behind us 
had a damaged wheel, then we had to go back to help out. On such occasions 
unembarrassed 'stop for a pee'. Only close to Berlin a bit of variety and settle- 
ments. [. . .] I did not notice any very great destruction [in Berlin] on this first 
day. Certainly: destruction. More like the picture presented by Munich. But 
hardly comparable to Dresden. I still maintained that on Wednesday, after we 
had seen much of the city centre. Gute and Grundig contradicted: it is worse 
than Dresden. Matter of taste: Berlin lives, Dresden is dead. - In the KPD 
building in Pankow each of us got a billeting slip and a big food packet (two 
big portions of bread, some butter, sausage, cheese and 20 cigarettes, which I 
brought back for E.), in addition two lunch coupons. Then we immediately 
drove to the conference location: the assembly hall of the List School in 
Niederschonhausen [in NE Berlin]. A very large hall, at least 300 people sitting 
on chairs and benches. In front of them, on a stage, at two long - red covered! - 
tables, sat the praesidium, in the middle the bulky figure of Wilhelm Pieck. It 
was about 11.30, the talking was in full swing - it was already the second day, 
the conference had begun the day before with the inevitable Nathan the Wise 
and a speech by Pieck, but this was the actual working day. I had lost the others 
and sat down at the very rear of the hall. Then Pieck said: 'we welcome our 
guests from Mecklenburg, Thuringia and Saxony who have just arrived. We 
would ask to take their seat up here with us in the praesidium for Thuringia 
Herr ... for Mecklenburg ... for Saxony' - as a government man Gute was 
presumably up there already: 'Comrade Klemperer, Professor of Romance Cul- 
tures (sic), Dr Laux . . .' I said to my neighbour: 'What are those called out 
supposed to do? Because I'm one of them.' - 'You have to go up there.' So I 
went. Pieck met me on the steps. No bigger than I - but built like a house, not 
fat, but altogether solid, Hindenburg-like. My hand disappeared into his paw. 
The following day I exchanged another few words with him. A massive, impres- 
sive head, grey hair brushed straight back. He looks 60 at most, not at all 70. I 
now sat until about 5 o'clock in my place of honour in the second row, with a 
heavy cold, my head splitting, much pain and misery. 3 speeches [. . .] went past 
me fairly dully: words and content basically the same as what one has already 
heard too often. The KPD wants to be tolerant, and it wants to be the party of 
the intelligentsia, [. . .] and it is national and anti-separatist. New to me, and 
here I intervened the next day, was that they want to treat the university 
professors mildly and 'the old intelligentsia' with consideration. Interesting for 
me was what happened by the way and in between. But that only really 
developed the next day. On Monday when the programme of speeches had 
been exhausted, those from outside Berlin got their dinner in a little room 
behind the stage. Semi-military and quite good: a full bowl of plain and star- 


February 1946 


97 


shaped noodles with little scraps of meat among them. We, Laux and I, then 
went by tram to our not very distant quarters. [. . .] 

[. . . On Tuesday] a neighbour [of the Neuberts, with whom Klemperer was 
accommodated] found out for me, that Anny Klemperer 27 was still living in the 
same place. But I did not find the time to look her up. - Tuesday 5 Feb. was the 
day for 'discussion'. One caught the chairman's eye and had the floor for 15 
minutes. People talked back and forth about this and that. Many had composed 
entire speeches, cliched, with the usual phrases, were unable to finish in time. 
[...]! seldom followed a whole speech. [. . .] Well after 3 p.m. after perhaps 20 
speakers there was the closing speech, I think given by Ackermann: 28 enlistment 
of the intelligentsia, unity of the workers' parties, one German nation(I), no 
separatism. - I was among the first speakers on Tuesday. I [spoke] about uni- 
versity professors, university self-administration and People's High School [...]. 
Applause. Later I was criticised by a speaker, I wanted 'a red university', on the 
contrary the 'old intelligentsia' had to be treated considerately, the 
question had to be addressed 'not morally but politically'. - Some time later 
this speaker came up to me, and there was a short conversation and very friendly 
contact. He was Herr Wandel, 29 a still young man, President of the Central 
Administration of the Sciences in the Soviet Zone. I had already got to know 
his head of personnel, a Professor Rompel 30 (or something like it) earlier. And 
with that I have come to the most important part, for me, of these days in 
Berlin. I have come into contact with several important people, and a great 
number of things have been initiated, of which perhaps a fraction will materi- 
alise. Above all I emphasised again and again, that I would like to have a 
university chair. 

Results: Wandel and the personnel man (Rompe) want to have me in Halle. 
(With home in Dresden and a car.) 

[...] 

A Berlin publisher [. . .] wants to bring out compendia of the kind world of 
nature and world of the intellect for a general public, high schools and People's 
High Schools 'by the top people in every field'. Would I ... on France ... I: 'if 
you make it possible for me and my wife, as my secretary, to stay in Geneva for 
8 weeks. The teacher responsible: that could be done, I would be hearing from 
them. 

Willmann, general secretary of the KB fetched over the editor of Aufbau, who 
seems to be subordinate to him. I am to publish my speech with Aufbau, I also 
suggested: comparison Plievier's Stalingrad - Barbusse's Under Fire. Agreed, I 
immediately received a review copy of Stalingrad. 

I add the plans floating between Grundig and myself: lecture at the academy 
and Villon edition. 

What will become of all of that. Halle? But if they say there I'm a 'journalist'? 
Geneva?? I fear for my heart, I am sceptical of everything. But for the moment 
it is encouraging nevertheless. 

On Tue. 6 Feb. the conference finished at about 4 p.m. Once again those of 
us from outside Berlin were fed, this time with a very thin soup. [. . .] 

Picked up early next morning by Gute's car. For a discussion with Willmann 


98 


The Lesser Evil 


(KB). I owe my view of Berlin to this discussion (and a subsequent business trip 
by Gute). Saw much or little? Both. We covered a lot of ground, but the car roof 
was inconvenient, I got only fleeting and partial images. Nevertheless, I did get 
a picture. [. . .1 For sure, the 'Lindens' and Wilhelmstr. and the big squares look 
very bad, certainly whole street fronts are partly burnt-out, partly collapsed - 
but on the whole, it's as I said: more Munich than Dresden, not total destruction. 
Dresden is more cleared up and so brighter - like a well-kept cemetery; in Berlin 
much rubble in streets which are lived in and where there is traffic, a sombre 
life, but life nevertheless. [. . .] The office of the KB, also Aufbau publishing 
house and probably some other things besides, Charlottenburg, Schliiterstr., 
well-preserved building. Willmann is going to send us [in Saxony] a Sudeten 
German chief secretary, who is to take care of all the administration, clear up 
the chaos and get things moving. [. . .] 

We then drove to a workshop at Halensee station; a tyre was vulcanised. 
(British sector) Then for lunch to the KPD Central Committee building in 
Wallstr. Big offices and a restaurant [...]. After that Gute still had business in 
Wilhelmstr. We had to wait and got out for a moment. The destroyed building, 
outside which we stopped, was the Adlon Hotel, 31 a big sign announced '5 
o'clock Tea'. The building was a completely burned-out ruin. Through a court- 
yard and past another ruined building a surviving block visible. (Main entrance 
presumably from Unter den Linden. Grundig said, a few rooms, half-damaged, 
were still going; a crowd of waiters and some cutlery provided an eery rem- 
iniscence of the Adlon's great days.) Opposite the Adlon, on Wilhelmstr., a 
much boarded-up building: the Central Administration for the Sciences. [. . .] 
The very strongest impression of destruction was actually made on me by the 
deforested waste [of the Tiergarten Park] in front of the Brandenburg Gate, 
where remains of statues stand amidst tree trunks and single trees, and a rostrum 
is a reminder of the Allies' victory parade. [. . .] 

We did not drive out of Berlin until about 4 p.m. As a single car we did not 
risk going on the autobahn. The driver hoped to pass the forests around 
Elsterwerda before dark. (Sicily a 100 years ago!) But [. . .] a tyre burst. The spare 
tyre was weak too. Lack of material. In Jiiterbog to another vulcanising shop. 
[. . .] Apart from that the journey disappeared in chatting, darkness and tiredness. 
In the end we probably deviated from the route I knew. [. . .] I saw nothing. In 
Dresden to all the same places again, this time to set the travellers down. Finally 
I was alone in the car with the driver. Here at about 9 p.m. 


1 0th February ; Sunday afternoon 

[...] 

On 9 Feb. to Katz because of mange. His very young assistant, Dr Vetter, 
prescribed me a salve, immediately had it made up in the pharmacy opposite - 
great favour, there was alcohol in it! He told me that Katz is dangerously ill with 
heart trouble and probably (at 67) close to the end. It upsets me. 

[...] 

In the evening, meeting of KPD + SPD in Dolzschen inn. A Social Democrat 


February 1946 


99 


I already knew, and a great doctrinaire, gave a historical overview, passionately 
advocated the unity of both parties and the national unity of Germany. Bitt- 
erness against Bavaria and the West. This is now the general mood. I myself 
tend ever more to Germany (East Germany) as a federal state of Soviet Russia. 
What is the point of the link with Bavaria, which inwardly never existed?! That 
is how much I have changed! 


12th February, Tuesday forenoon 

12 Feb. 1912, father died 34 years ago, 32 with what right am I still living? 

On Sunday evening after x distractions and repeatedly falling asleep, when 
E. was already in bed, I woke up and wrote the article for Aufbau [...]. 

I did not go to bed until 2.30. 

Yesterday only business. In the morning went to see the new district mayor, 
Dobberke, about the endless Vogel affair. A reasonable and moderate KPD man, 
we got on very well. - Bank and after that correspondence. [. . .] This afternoon 
was then taken up with a more than 3 hour session of the advisory council of 
the PHS [. . .] In fact nothing new came up. [. . .] 

Grumpy letter from Heidebroek, why wasn't I attending the regular 'staff 
meetings' Tue. 11 a.m. (I knew nothing about it.) [. . .] At the same time request 
to give notice of lectures: I have given notice of 5 classes. 1 hr. on Petrarch, 4 
hrs. 18ieme, 2 of them seminars - although it is still unclear what texts can be 
dug up. 

It becomes ever more questionable, how I am going to find time for all of 
that. I could, if I had a car; but I cannot manage it with the terrible trams. I am 
fatalistic, my hopes are on Halle. 

[...] 

2 p.m. 

Session in the Student House. More a large room than a small hall. Horseshoe 
table, settee. Perhaps 40 people present. Heidebroek reported. I always have an 
impression of hostility, particularly on the part of my former colleagues. Only 
Spamer is cordial, Gehrig ignores me, Janentzky is very cool. - Very interesting: 
the Russians have conceded the opening of an education faculty; after pleas 
they also permitted forestry and structural engineering - but not mechanical 
and electrical engineering. I.e. they fear a revival of armaments manufacture. 
[. . .] Gehrig asked: will the Pedagogical Institute be affiliated to us or incorp- 
orated? I said, misjudgement of the situation: We were being affiliated, the 
education section is central and dominant. The rector: It was not quite like that, 
but there was something to it. He had introduced me to the meeting as a 
returnee, who was now working 'especially intensively' for the PHS. - 1 invited 
the gentlemen (not 'colleagues') [. . .] to collaborate with the PHS. The rector 
responded, that all the PHS plans had already 'flown past' them, they would 
like more details in writing. [. . .] 


100 


The Lesser Evil 


21st February, Thursday evening 

I just now put a sample [of L77] in an envelope for Knorr & Hirth [...]. 

Now I shall probably need a whole day for the diary. A week in the clutches 
of politics. 


22nd February ; Friday evening 

On Saturday 16 February I was overtaken by the new political wave. I called on 
Gute, so as to show my face again and to find out more about the TH. G. was 
alone and he immediately revealed: Menke-Gliickert was ripe for a fall, after he 
had been already more or less checkmated by Fischer, the deputy president, 
KPD man and, it is said, the real wielder of power [. . .] After that, on Tue., 
Wildfiihr, turned up here. Car waiting, terrifically excited, already perorating in 
the hall, waking E. (2 p.m.), taking caffeine and handing it out (it had no effect 
on us!), master of the higher education world. [. . .] He would fetch me in his car 
the next day, Wednesday, at 1.30, for the decisive meeting. [. . .] The Wednesday 
disgusted me. Wildfiihr picked me up. First of all an ante-room. Some Party 
secretary, Locherer, south German, about 40, expressionless. A young woman 
with a pince-nez. Lotte Guhne, evidently just promoted from minor functionary 
to senior civil servant or departmental secretary [...]. More people came, we 
went into the adjacent main room. We now sat, 10 of us, at a round table, a 
Party and conspirators' conference. Fischer was not present. Locherer chaired 
with the authority of a sergeant-major, but held the debate together not unskil- 
fully. It was astonishing with what ease he required and got obedience. From 
Gute as well. A tapping of the pencil was sufficient to end a dialogue or a 
digression. He had set himself the goal of discussing the TH, of drawing up a 
new curriculum, and he managed it, too. [. . .] So first of all the 'Education 
Faculty'. Everyone the TH had wanted to save from the shut-down departments 
had been installed here. But naturally the technical and scientific departments 
there require a much smaller staff than the proper departments of the TH. First, 

I spoke at length. Naturally I was only interested in the humanities section. [. . .] 
The following list of the building, forestry and wood departments was dealt 
with more quickly [...]. Here there was a practical problem: to what extent 
could, to what extent did engineers have to be appointed (telegraphy, railways, 
agricultural machinery etc.), without the Russians believing that their ban on 
the engineering departments was being circumvented. [. . .] The selection was 
made on political grounds, many professors will lose their jobs. There are to be 
new political appointments to the posts of rector and of dean of education. For 
my part I declined the rectorship. There should be a new broom, without 
encumbrances of tradition . . . All of it was discussed conspiratorially, yet with 
great certainty. [. . .] I came home feeling very detached and disgusted. [. . .] Very 
small and very ignorant people are sitting on shaky little chairs, have big titles 
and don't know whether they will still have chair and title tomorrow. To whom 
have I committed myself? What will become of me? If I stumble over the 
politics, I can lose my professorship. [. . .] 

[...] 


February 1946 


101 


My disgust at the pitifulness of these people had already begun a couple of 
days before with Gladewitz. 33 Newly fledged [government] department head, in 
charge of the information section, to which the PHS has now been attached. 
Griitzner had urged me to plead with Gladewitz to allow us to open on 3 
March. Gladewitz wanted to go to the SMA [Soviet Military Administration] 
immediately. He didn't get anywhere: the Russians want the People's High 
Schools to begin on 1 April throughout the Soviet territory. So Gladewitz 
received me with extraordinary friendliness; he then had me taken home in his 
very elegant 'big guzzler' Horch car. (This is my latest way of living: I beg car 
rides from the city and state administrations and at the same time constantly 
press for my own ... I seem everywhere to be regarded as a coming man, but at 
the moment I am nothing.) [. . .] 

Melanchthonstr. with its Wednesday and Friday consulting hours takes up 
quite as much time as the State Administration. X people want posts or infor- 
mation, which I cannot provide. One wants to teach stenography courses, 
another graphology. I reject both. An engineer wants to teach structural engin- 
eering. The Russians forbid it. People want to give language teaching without 
having sufficient qualifications. I am oversubscribed for speech training. [. . .] 
Constant bickering between Hoppe and Griitzner - 1 have to meditate. Griitzner 
is in charge of the office and a KPD official, well aware of his power, and friend 
of Gute. Hoppe [. . .] 'intellectual' in quotation marks, wallowing in fine words 
like 'co-ordinating' [. . .] does not want to be any old 'office worker', and Griitzner 
needs office workers (plural). [. . .] Spamer called on me at the PHS. He wants to 
contribute. [. . .] 

Private experience of the past week: again and again I fall asleep at my desk 
from exhaustion; I got the parcel for Munich ready [L77 sample], I read a couple 
of pages of Plievier. 

[...] 

I don't care for our neighbour Schmidt. He was a pg from 1933, has lost his 
post as tax inspector since the 15 Feb., will only be re-appointed with a much 
reduced salary and thus be unable to support his son Giinther, who has just 
begun studying medicine at Jena. He experiences that as a great injustice, feels 
himself to be a martyr and repeatedly begs me to help him. He has given me a 
diary he kept in Russia, which demonstrates his anti-Fascist attitude. I have not 
got around to reading it. I could not quite conceal the fact from him, that I and 
millions of others suffered far worse things. 


23rd February, Saturday afternoon 

I spent the greater part of the working day on the above entry which I began 
yesterday. Then [ — ] I revised the Culture-Civilisation lecture, which I sketched 
out on 18 Jan., at the time for Waldenburg, and which was given neither there 
nor in various other places, because each time there was no car. Now a car is 
supposed - supposed! - to be here at 7, to [take] me to the 'Recruitment party 
of the Gross-Weinbohla group of the KB', [which] takes place at 8. This time 
the invitation came the day before yesterday from the Plauen KPD group. 


102 


The Lesser Evil 


Yesterday morning I agreed on condition of a car. A tram does go there, but it 
would take hours and I would be unable to get one back in the evening. Janny, 
the youthful political officer down in Plauen, agreed without further ado and 
will fetch me himself at 7. Vedremo. 34 [. . .] 

Nasty cold snowstorm weather. The wireless warns of ruins collapsing in the 
wind. 


26th February ; Tuesday morning 

The lecture almost came to nothing once again. The propaganda man in 
Weinbohla unhappy - all efforts in vain, only two dozen people in the large 
hall, which holds hundreds. [. . .] I placed my chair in front of the few people 
(without climbing up on stage) and spoke for about f of an hour. - A very large 
restaurant, before the event I got a supper [...]. Janny and his young wife came 
with me in the car. Janny not so 'youthful', man of 47, businessman with some 
education, passionate left-wing politician. [. . .] Janny said, that language stands 
between the workers and the educated. The workers say shit and arse at every 
turn/ I: 'and if we do the same, it sounds false and affected and only increases 
the distrust/ 

[...] 


28th February ; Thursday afternoon 

For 2, 3 days my heart has been in a worse state than ever before. Very severe 
pains while walking, I have to halt every couple of steps. Slow easing off only 
when I come into the warmth; yesterday after dinner severe pains at home also. 

[...] 

On the morning of Tue. 26 [. . .] a telegram arrived from the Central Admin- 
istration for Popular Education, Berlin: 'Please immediately contact Rector Jena 
and Lindemann State Office Popular Education Weimar with regard to chair at 
Jena University. Professor Rompe/ (I got to know Rompe in Berlin.) Then 
towards evening another corresponding Weimar telegram reached me by way 
of the People's High School. I always think of the officer whom Napoleon 
promoted on the battlefield of Waterloo. The officer says: II est tard. 35 - I made 
my way to the State Administration. Gute, still ailing, was there, Wildfiihr 
attached himself to me, the three of us wanted to go to Fischer. But in the end 
only Wildfiihr and myself had the audience. Fischer, grey en brosse hair, large 
grey eyes, determined appearance. He is said to be anti-Semitic and vain. To me 
he was enchantingly pleasant. 'You have no idea, how often your candidature 
is mentioned; one would have to cut a man like you into six parts, you are so 
much in demand. Wait a couple of weeks - do you have enough to live on? - 1 
take the decisions, only a little bit longer, than Menke-Gluckert will be gone. 
You will carry out the reforms for us here, and will then be dean of the education 
faculty in Leipzig, you will get the professorship there, and we will propose Herr 
Jan for Jena . . - 'Will it happen just like that, Herr President?' Laughter: 'But 
I alone take the decisions. I shall have a telegram sent to Berlin: "Kl. in Saxony 


March 1946 


103 


committed to Leipzig and Dresden. Propose Eduard von Jan for Jena . . There 
is no need for you to do anything more with regard to this matter.' I thanked 
him warmly. He, beaming courteously as he gripped my hand: Tt is we who 
should be thanking you.' I was given a whole packet of cigarettes as a present. 
[. . .] To il est tard was added a second permanent keynote: Maitre Corbeau ... I 
have let the Jena crumb fall; will I receive the more important Leipzig? 36 Fischer 
vouches for it - but who vouches for Fischer? But 1) I had to risk playing the 
game, and 2) vanitas vanitatum, when death is so close at my heels. [. . .] 


2nd March , Saturday forenoon 

[...] 

A young, likeable, good-looking man came to me, greying hair, one-armed, 
very humble, although his bearing was good: Gerhard Christmann, formerly 
Nazi mayor, now without employment, is to lose his apartment (wife and small 
child). I attested, that in 1942 he had accepted my refusal to sell the house and 
not turned me over to the Gestapo. 

[...] 

To be added is the reception by the new Lord Mayor, Leissner, 37 on Wed., 
27th Feb. Leissner, SPD, lawyer, coming from Breslau, recently installed, very 
emaciatedly thin, fair-haired, mid-50s, very courteous, cautious but relaxed and 
likeable. We: Dolitzsch, Hoppe, Kiessig and Nestler as 'advisory committee' 
[PHSJ and 'supporters'; purpose: introduction for our part, sizing up on the part 
of the new lord mayor, who wants to familiarise himself. Individual higher 
education questions: [...]. Everything jelly-like, undecided. Crucial point of the 
whole very long palaver (cigarettes, fauteuil and sofa): The KPD has appointed 
a still young man, Egon Rentzsch, 38 whom I do not know, as salaried councillor 
and head of the Culture and Schools Department and thus superior to the 
unsalaried town councillor and director of the Schools Department, Dolitzsch; 
he is in the SPD, should actually be in charge of schools, is a veteran teacher 
and party member and in very poor health having been in a concentration 
camp. Dolitzsch sees in this development an encroachment on his position and 
wants to go. The lord mayor, himself SPD, sympathises with D., but is faced 
with established facts and is first of all feeling his way. Dolitzsch says: the 
Communists are completely violating parity, they want to get a firm grip of as 
many posts as possible, before [party] unification has been accomplished. I 
cannot contradict, am in the KPD, preach my scholarly viewpoint, my [liberal] 
origins, my desire for the united party. Leissner smiles benevolently at me; I 
was an idealist, scholar, did not yet know the conditions in a 'mass party'. I: I 
was not quite so childish, but I should be granted my real or apparent naivety, 
perhaps I could carry my line; if not I would go . . . Nothing positive came of 
the long conversation - but I did nevertheless see the shakiness and difficulty 
of all these political lives [...]. Why should not Fischer sacrifice me tomorrow 
morning for a different combination? [. . .] After that I was brought home in 
D.'s car and introduced D. to E. At the moment I am the more important man 
and am more firmly in the saddle than Dolitzsch. But for how long? ...[...] 


104 


The Lesser Evil 


Afternoon 

All of the foregoing will be of no account if, entirely without ceremony, death 
grips my heart. And this morning he did so again plainly and remorselessly. 

As I was not down in town yesterday Hoppe sent post by a messenger. Inter 
alia: tomorrow morning at 1 1 [. . .] I am to speak in Gute's place on the setting 
up of the local, Dresden, group of the KB [...]. I went to the post office, to send 
a telegram: the Russians have more less uncabled Dolzschen. I went down to 
the KPD office in Plauen, to Janny. [. . .] I called the PH S in vain, no one in the 
office. Then district headquarters. There I got hold of Gruttner. Result: if tomor- 
row he is up here by 10.30 with a car, then I shall speak, otherwise not. I shall 
give a slightly altered version of the Weinbohla lecture, if I speak. 

Today we had an invitation. Eva went alone. If I sit here quietly in the warmth, 
the pain is very slight; but the memento is always there, and if, as just now, I 
carry up coal, it makes itself very perceptible. What will become of all my plans 
and possibilities. Probably nothing any more. What will become of E.? There 
are no widows' pensions any more. What will become of me? [. . .] Has generous 
nature saved me, only to let me die now, to leave LTI and Curriculum and 
18ieme 39 and Leipzig chair y todo, todo 40 unfulfilled? [. . .] I want to work to the 
last. [. . .] 


4th March , Monday forenoon 

The car really did come yesterday. I spoke - but, hampered by my miserable 
condition, very badly - I found it embarrassing. Large hall, half-full, unheated. 
I spoke, as also recently in Weinbohla, as is altogether common [. . .] in my coat. 
A pianist [. . .] played boringly on a tiny grand piano. Then Menke-Gluckert. (Is 
he so unsuspecting, or only pretending?) First simply information on estab- 
lishment, fees, a provisional committee, 10 people, including myself [...]. 

After the lecture yesterday, Dobberke came up to me (cf 12th Feb.). The Vogel 
business was now being taken care of. Today an ecstatic Vogel sen. was here: he 
has finally been allocated a new shop. He wanted to give me a packet of tea and 
a bottle of schnapps. I took the tea, I paid 42M for the schnapps, the regular 
price, in order to slip it to the Wolffs for 49. 


5th March , Tuesday forenoon 

To the Director of the People's High School, Herr Klemberer [sic], Dresden. The 
Central Administration for Popular Education in Berlin informs us, that you are 
interested in finding employment at the University of Jena or in the sphere of 
Popular Education in general. Could you please send us a curriculum vitae, the 
form enclosed here and a list of any publications. On behalf of etc.: Lindemann.' 

This letter arrived yesterday and the telegram from this Lindemann to Herr 
Klemberer, PHS, Dresden was already an indication of what was to follow. 
Evidently a civil servant like Giihne here or Scholz, the petrol-pump attendant 
mayor. The Berlin telegram was undoubtedly a call to a chair and Fischer 
understood, appraised and replied to it as such. Nevertheless: I feel very deflated 


March 1946 


105 


and inwardly something of a fool. On E.'s advice I replied: After consultation 
with the Government of Saxony, I have decided to decline the honourable call 
to the University of Jena conveyed to me by the Central Administration, Berlin, 
and the State Administration has already wired that to Berlin. In accordance 
with the request from Berlin I am informing you of this fact. With the greatest 
respect Dr V. Klemperer, Professor at the Technical High School, Dresden, 
Director of the People's High School, Dresden. 

But it is foolish to allow this affair to irritate me so greatly. Because I am 
completely checked and crippled by my condition. Severe pains again and 
again. I do not see how I will be able to meet all my obligations, I do not think 
that much time is left to me. - At all events, today I must get down to the 
dermatologist in Westendstr., because my head is becoming ever more leprous. 

[..J 


6th March , Wednesday morning 

[. . .] Since Sunday, no more lunch at the Wolffs. The Raschs, who are to move 
in here in April and are just now felling and sawing up a couple of surplus trees 
in the garden, brought a bagful of potatoes, which he had bought in the country. 

Very awkward my position between coming or perhaps not coming power 
and present rumour-enveloped lack of power or possible power. That's what I 
infer from the Hoppe woman's reports, who listens and whispers to everyone, 
and whose soft-soap I do not trust, but from whom a great deal can nevertheless 
be learned (although it must be weighed with the greatest caution). [...]. Hoppe 
is not well-disposed to the KPD, no one in my orbit and in my stratum is 
sympathetic to the KPD. I am constantly aware that I am walking a tightrope. 

Slow and disappointed reading of Under Fire. Sooo faded, so empty! And the 
frightful translation [...]. 


9th March, Saturday evening 

In the morning I wanted to go into town: Summoned to the CID in Bernhardstr. 
about the Kluge-Wolff business. The pains became so dreadful that I dragged 
myself back from Residenzstr. with great difficulty. Then at midday Frau Dr 
Frenzel, who lives nearby, came; likeable person, looks more like a housewife - 
and has 3 children - than a modern doctor. Her judgement after examining me: 
my heart was not in an especially bad state, only there was some muscle 
weakness; it was probably a mixture of neuritis and a strained heart. She 
prescribed a heart drug and 8 days at home. (That will then make a second 
holiday week). In the afternoon, despite warmth and sitting still, I had a renewed 
bout of pain and this time with a quite distinct heart spasm. I do believe, that 
my angina has entered the final stage. It is very sad. Now that I am becoming a 
success, now that there is no pension or other security for E. The whole burden 
of my illness rests on her. Today she was constantly on the go: to the Police, in 
the pharmacy (so far without success), hunting for food (in vain; we do without 


106 


The Lesser Evil 


lunch, have the thinnest soup for supper and use up our bread reserve too 
quickly). 

This morning E. came back with the CID man to whom she had made my 
excuses: Comrade Wiczorek- T am a skilled moulder and now Vm supposed to 
be a detective!' - very honest man, concentration-camp friend of Seidemann. 
Kluge, fighting for his apartment, is suing Wolff for slander, for calling him a 
Gestapo agent. [. . .] At issue is a document, which Frau Wolff gave to me, and I 
gave to Seidemann, who has mislaid it. This document does not show that Kluge 
was in the service of the Gestapo, but that he certainly had something to do with 
a Gestapo matter (confiscated Jewish property). I argued from the beginning, as 
I still do today: in the 3rd Reich the man became provincial court judge 
with uncommon rapidity. He claims he was only a magistrate, when he was a 
provincial judge. And it is clear from this document, that he knew about nasty 
things. Ergo he deserves to lose his apartment and his furniture. This was the 
substance of the statement I recorded here today. I wrote, inter alia: T do not 
know Kluge, but I make no secret of the fact that, as a victim of Fascism, I have 
a very great aversion to active National Socialists, among whom I most certainly 
include judges.' 

[...] 


10th March , Sunday evening 

[..J 

E. was away for many hours, searching for food. At our Maria Kube's she got 
lunch, and tomorrow Maria is going to bring us a pailful of potatoes. Meanwhile 
Seidemann sent his little daughter to us with some bread and cereal flakes [...]. 
Thus far today my food has consisted of dry bread with my coffee [...]. 

Also I ran around the whole day with my head covered in ointment and 
bandaged and my face thickly smeared with sulphur, of course tormented by 
itching. But I would make light of this misfortune and the lack of food, were it 
not for my failing heart. 


12th March , Tuesday evening 

At home all day. As soon as I leave the warm room, I get bouts of pain. Heart or 
rheumatism? And when will I be fit for action again? 

Worked on Barbusse-Plievier. In part warming over old things, in part more. 

Weidhaas writes (very politely), could I speak for 300M in the Plauen theatre 41 
on 31 March at the Culture and Recruitment Week, the PHS had not yet been 
given permission to open. But he says nothing about a car. 


March 1946 


107 


15th March , Friday evening 

In the night from Tue. to Wed. I had the first really serious attack of angina, not 
just very bad pain, but such terrible difficulty in breathing and shortage of 
breath and anxiety for such a long time, that I woke E. The next day I was 
completely washed out. In the evening Dr Frenzel came. Recently she had still 
found my heart passable; now she found it weak and very fast and was certain 
that all my complaints were the result of angina. She prescribed me all kinds of 
things (of which most were not to be had today); she wanted to put me to bed 
for 4 days. She said I was allowed to do intellectual work and give lectures. But 
not take a single step. I could only leave the house, if a well-sprung car took me 
from door to door. She thought that, if I rested, my health could be restored fin 
six months'. -[...] 

My existence now literally depends on this . . . Without a car I can go neither 
to the TH, nor to the PHS, nor to the State Administration. I shall lose everything, 
if I have to own up to being a cardiac invalid. For the time being I still have 
'neuritis'. 

[Then] Hoppe appeared. She brought a request to speak next Thursday at the 
KPD training course for intellectuals. - Yes, ifl get a car. [. . .] Apart from various 
bits of paperwork, she had brought a very courteous letter from the Volksstimme 
[Voice of the people]. Could I contribute my talk from the Kulturbund cele- 
bration on 3 March for 'Unity'. - Gladly - but it was not formulated as a printed 
article. Hoppe had her cutlery and lunch with her. The three of us ate together, 
I dictated; we drank coffee, I dictated. When she left with the finished article it 
was half past seven. I impressed on her once again: without a car I was helpless. 
We avoided talking to her and others about my heart problem. [. . .] 

I forgot: yesterday evening a young man from the Middle German Broad- 
casting Station, Hahnewald, came to see me. Could I please give a 10 minute 
talk at the end of next week on anything to do with PHS, culture and the like. 
A car was promised in this case. But the ms had to be provided in advance. The 
Russian censors (2 officers) were very strict and did not, inter alia, like the word 
'fatherland'. [. . .] I am sure I can cobble something together. I want to do that 
tomorrow, before I complete the Plievier. 


17th March , Sunday evening 

[...] 

Gute came to see me yesterday afternoon. Two urgent matters, cars were 
promised for both: today I was to speak to the Meissen KB (for this he left 
behind a canister of petrol) and next Sunday in Jena. I accepted both, the 
culture lecture was designated for Meissen, a shortened version of which is to 
appear in 'Unity', and for Jena: Barbusse/Plievier, which will have its premiere 
on Thursday in Melanchthonstr. 

Meissen dealt with very agreeably today, back after 4 p.m., then too tired for 
further work. [. . .] It will all have to be noted at greater length. [. . .] 

[...] 


108 


The Lesser Evil 


[22nd March], Catching up, addendum for the last week (notes) 

[Talk in Meissen, Sunday, 16 March] I had spoken in the cinema. There I met 
again - 'Don't we know one other?' - 'Of course, from the times we were shaved 
in Zeughausstr!' - Kociollek, 42 the singer and charge hand of the Jewish workers 
for the feared Schwarz. He ended up in Auschwitz, was saved, is now theatre 
director in Meissen. [. . .] 

Christmann, the one-armed, now grey-haired former mayor, sought my pro- 
tection once again, to avoid his apartment being taken away from him. But 
Janny had told me, Ch. had wanted to turn in 20 KPD members, a list had been 
found in his home. And E. had by chance heard someone complaining about 
Nazi doings in Dolzschen: 'And Comrade Prof. Klemperer is sticking up for the 
Nazi swine Christmann!' So I held back, even though Ch. swears, with every 
appearance of telling the truth, that he never drew up such a list. [. . .] But I 
cannot expose and incriminate myself any further; the man has a friendly 
attestation from me, I cannot do anything more. [. . .] 

Meanwhile our Wolffs, who since 1 or 2 of March can no longer cook for us, 
are furious, because Kluge, the Nazi district judge, has been allowed to move 
back into his apartment and furniture - for the time being this large family is 
stuck in one room and the shared kitchen. There is no clear line at all in dealing 
with the Nazi cases. Now blowing cold, now hot - all in all an ever greater 
strengthening of reaction. 


25th March, Dresden 

[...] 

On the forenoon of Thurs. 21 March, young Hahnewald picked me up for the 
wireless recording. Villa in Tiergartenstr. Building and equipping going on, a 
large studio is just being completed, there's already a grand piano. A room with 
all kinds of lead wires, a microphone in front of the reader, who is given a silent 
signal to begin and to stop. Once a worker came in, the tape had run out, a new 
one had to be put on. (I still understand nothing of the technical side; Hahne- 
wald told me: You are recorded on a tape, in which cuts can be made, and that 
is submitted to the censors. [. . .]) I read from a copy of my manuscript [. . .] 
which had not yet been submitted to the Russians. They were very strict and 
suspicious, unpredictable and incomprehensible. Particularly since Churchill's 
anti-Russian speech in the USA. 43 [. . .] 

[..J 

Then finally I took a few hours to complete my crib for the Barbusse-Plievier 
lecture, which was due at 6 p.m. at Melanchthonstr. as part of the KPD training 
course for intellectuals. [. . .] I addressed about 150-200 people in the hall which 
holds 400, really spoke very well and got considerable applause. The subsequent 
'discussion' was amusing. The chairman, an all too gently enthusiastic teacher, 
said one did not pick such a 'flower' to pieces, he advised against any discussion. 
At that a forceful man spoke up: he insisted on the right to make criticisms, 
that's why we had democracy! That was all he wanted to say - and sat down 
again. [. . .] Frau Hoppe introduced a very slim, blonde young woman to me: 


March 1946 


109 


Frau Knabe-Schulze, a painter, widow of the executed Fritz Schulze [...]: she 
wants to paint me. (I was wearing a bandage around my ointment covered 
head!) [. . .] 


25th March , evening ; 11 p.m. 

A messenger came from the State Administration: tomorrow I am to take part 
in negotiations in Berlin about the education faculty. [. . .] 


26th March , Berlin trip 

The car for the Berlin trip was here at 5.30 a.m. on 26 March. A Mercedes 6 
cylinder, which covered long stretches on the autobahn at more than 60 m.p.h. 
. . . The Hentschke couple. Not particularly likeable. He 42, in charge of the 
teacher courses in Wachwitz, immatriculation supervisor in Leipzig, assistant to 
Schneller. Most radical representative of the teachers' point of view. Repeatedly 
emphasised goal: to smash the grammar schools, break the arrogance of the 
grammar-school teachers, create the comprehensive teacher for the com- 
prehensive school. The educational standard will naturally suffer as a result: 
this was the lesser evil for the moment. 

Discussed, futilely, in Berlin-Karlshorst 44 were only schools (on which there 
was agreement) and the course of study for teachers (on which there was no 
agreement). [. . .] the Russians appear to firmly differentiate: elementary-school 
teachers to training colleges, secondary-school teachers to the universities. The 
Russians simply have no political misgivings any more and are concerned solely 
with the scholarly goal. Here [in the Soviet Zone], therefore, they to some extent 
go along with those on the Right, with the 'reactionaries'. 

The return journey, finally in complete darkness, went well. I was up here 
before 9 p.m. and immediately drove to the Grubes, where we had been invited 
for Tuesday evening. While I was still looking for the entrance, Grube himself 
appeared in his own car and brought me in. Warm welcome. Except first of all 
there was a musical evening. Frieser, my colleague from the TH, played cello, 
an elderly woman musician and friend of the family played piano, one of the 
two young daughters of the house played violin. Grube is probably in his mid 
to late 40s, his wife (dark speckled hair, otherwise very youthful) a few years 
younger. It turned out: in 1919 he was a student in Munich (born there) and 
went through the whole business on the revolutionary side. [. . .] He is on the 
point of defecting from the SPD to the KPD. He is a city councillor and in 
charge of hygienics, which has always been his specialism. [. . .] 


29th March , midday Friday 

[...] 

Tomorrow after a month's gap, we are to eat at the Wolffs again. 

On Monday the Raschs move in here. 

And now the question is, whether I get the promised car for Plauen tomorrow. 


110 


The Lesser Evil 


2nd April , Tuesday afternoon 

The bitter and depressing experience of recent days was the foundering of the 
Piauen lecture. The State Administration had twice promised me with the 
greatest certainty a car for 2 p.m. on Saturday; in Piauen Weidhaas, the mayor, 
had arranged a hotel room for me, I was invited for Saturday evening and 
Sunday midday, I was to speak in the theatre, which has 900 seats, I had been 
promised a fee of 300M, the prospect of foodstuffs had also been held out to 
me; the Schemers were also expected to come to Piauen . . . On Saturday at 2 
there was no car here. At 3p.m. I called the State Admin.: no one there any 
more. I was put through to the motor pool: abruptly altered instructions, no 
car free, etc. etc. I shouted, it did no good. 

[..J 

I then wrote a courteous and exasperated letter to Weidhaas. 

What hurts me more than the business itself: my helplessness, my being left 
in the lurch, pushed aside. No one cares about me, my imaginary importance 
caves in. If I cannot pursue my profession, then simply not, then I am dropped 
and replaced. I no longer believe in my post in the ministry, no longer in my 
Leipzig professorship; I ask myself how I shall be able to retain my posts here. I 
must go into town again, even if the pains return. I must go on, for as long as I 
can. How long? And what will then become of E.? Welfare, 26M a month. 

Very bitter days. 

At the same time industrious. Barbusse-Plievier completely corrected. [. . .] 
My wireless speech has not been broadcast, and now the Culture Week is over, 
and so it is not going to be broadcast. That, too, a hurt. 

[.••] 

Since Saturday we have been eating with the Wolffs again. Honest Michel 
sent a couple of potatoes. But otherwise things look very bad with food. Terribly 
poor bread, it is said to contain acorns and chestnuts. 

Shortages everywhere. Today Fraulein Berndt wrote to me: Irene Papesch is 
lying in hospital with a serious oedema, could I use my influence with Frau 
Fenske, the city councillor, so that P. gets to a rest home, 'otherwise she will go 
out like a light'. 

The Raschs have been living with us since yesterday. 4 strong. But Frau R. 
looks after the household, the children are quiet and well-behaved, I have not 
yet seen the husband in person. If it stays like this ... if ... if .. . 

Our neighbours, the Jungs, invited us for coffee. They want me to use my 
influence again to have him rehabilitated, he has been drafted into a lower post. 
When I saw how his children were starving and mourned each little piece of 
cake that was forced on us, I felt horrid. I can do nothing about the matter 
itself; all rehabilitations are blocked for the time being; also everyone wants to 
be rehabilitated; also in the eyes of the Party I cannot be the advocate of all 
Pg's- 

[..J 

After an interval of some weeks, I am now in a position to resume work on 
the LTI. But how? The old inhibitions are coming to the fore again. Also, I am 
anxious because Munich has not yet responded to the sample sent off on 22 Feb. 


April 1946 


111 


The green outside is getting ever brighter. A French phrase haunts me, by 
some Catholic: le leurre eternel [du printemps ]. 45 
[...] 


6th April , Saturday evening 

Out of the house yesterday before 9. Still tremblingly painful at every step. It 
cannot be helped. To the KPD at Albertplatz, to see Schwarz and Griittner. 
Cigarettes? No. Trousers on a ration coupon? No. Lunch? Yes, at 1. To the PHS. 
A series of acceptances and rejections of applications by teachers. Otherwise 
little correspondence. However, I stayed until after 12. I proofread my article 
HO Years of Fascism'. At 1 back to the Party. Disappointment: No lunch. I had 
a couple of slices of dry bread with me, that had to suffice. [. . .] In the Tagliche 
Rundschau [newspaper] a very good picture of Vossler, Rector of Munich University. 
He wrote to me in the autumn, he had been on his back for 3 months with a 
weak heart. [. . .] And now active again. Today I wrote to him at great length and 
very frankly. About the KPD, about Jan, about my aspirations. Could he help 
me to give lectures, in Munich, in Switzerland? Could he help me obtain modem 
French literature ... I seriously declared my commitment to the KPD and to 
sitting between stools. 

At 5 to 4 back to the Mordgrundbriicke with the no. 11 tram. There, at 41 
Schillerstr., a villa belonging to the Kulturbund. Kneschke, from Bohemia, old- 
looking, but a briskly skilful secretary 46 had convened the managing committee 
of the Dresden group. I was now pronounced 1st chairman, Tobler the 2nd, 
Balzer the 3rd, Eva Blanke, an economist, becomes secretary. There was talk of 
working groups, of the April programme. Much talk, nothing of substance. 
Tobler and Heidebroek have a Science and Research Working Group, Balzer and 
the sculptor Volwahsen: Art, myself with Eva Blank: Literature 


7th April, Sunday after midnight 

The section 'Blurring boundaries' completed for LTI. - After lunch to the 
Markgraf-Heinrichstr. Hospital where, according to Marta Berndt, Irene Papesch, 
on whose behalf I wrote to Fenske, was supposed to be. She was not there. 
Apparently it is possible to send post abroad again; 1 wrote to Hilde Jonson. 
[...] 


10th April, Wednesday forenoon 

[...] 

At the moment despite constant weariness and distraction I am making good 
progress with the LTI; yesterday 'The first three words of the Nazi language' 
completed. But the proofreading of the typed pages is not going well. And there 
is still no reply from Knorr & Hirth, whom I sent the first mss at the end of 
February. 

Yesterday morning, I risked going to the TH on foot once again. Still pain 


112 


The Lesser Evil 


and discomfort, but my heart is fitter. (Only neuritis and scabies plague me. 
That my feet are swollen appears to be normal for the times.) The meeting was 
cancelled, since the Russians were just taking away epidiascopes; but I showed 
my face and talked to various people, and so the purpose of the excursion was 
fulfilled. I got the cash payments for first book purchases by the Romance 
Languages department going; a new catalogue has to be set up, starting from 
the very beginning. Everything is gone, not even a list of accessions could be 
found. [. . .] I am now ploughing through Kuhn's Sinn des Krieges [Meaning of 
the War]. 47 The man must lose his chair; I told Mey and Spamer so. [. . .] People 
undoubtedly respect, probably also fear me. Apart from that, no one knows 
what will happen. At the moment the education faculty appears to have been 
dropped - here and elsewhere [. . .] and the Russians appear to want the old 
teacher-training college. Heidebroek says, they are now expecting to open the 
TH on 15 May. But which sections of the TH? And for which students? And 
with how many professors?? Everything, everything is undecided. [. . .] 


15th April , Monday afternoon 

Work in recent days: Reading Kuhn [. . .] article about him for LTI. [. . .] The 
whole thing: LTI and the history of scholarship. A lot of work on that, especially 
as there were many matters which had to be dealt with away from home. 

On Thursday evening the PHS got under way with a shallow lecture by 
Weidauer [Dresden's mayor] on Nazism and Scholarship - pure propaganda 
speech - in the hall at Melanchthonstr. I made a few introductory remarks, the 
celebration is delayed until 28 April, praised Weidauer as the rebuilder of 
Dresden. The lecture was poorly attended. It has meanwhile turned out, that 
interest in the PHS is altogether very slight. (Likewise for the Culture Week!) A 
number of lectures have been cancelled because of lack of students, among 
them my LTI with three (!) enrolments. What goes down well, is language 
teaching, English above all, then Russian. Not French. Second, wireless engin- 
eering. Third: Goethe. [. . .] We are expecting the celebration on 28 April to have 
a very positive effect. The 'Friends and Patrons of the PHS', i.e. the active Kiessig 
and decent Nestler now want to print my speech. [. . .] For the second time I 
had the help of the KPD car to get home. I now have a most zealous new friend 
down there at Albertplatz: Gertrud Keller, with whom I became acquainted on 
the trip to the Culture Congress of the KPD in Berlin, and who has now taken 
charge of the Party's cultural office. [. . .] I got a loaf, and a cwt. of potatoes is 
supposed to arrive at 6. [. . .] Further with respect to food. The shortage of recent 
days was extreme, especially as lunch with the Wolffs has been terminated 
again. Nothing but dry bread and the thinnest potato-water soup. - I also got 
12 cigarettes from the good Frau Keller. - Then today I also made friends with 
Loewenkopf, the previously tight-fisted manager of the Victims of Fascism office 
on Albertplatz. He is head of the Jewish Community here, he praised my Party 
activities, we have now got to 'Comrade' and 'Du'. That produced more than 
30 lbs of potatoes. 

After lunch yesterday to the Johannstadter Hospital [. . .] to Irene Papesch, 


April 1946 


113 


who looks terrible, and on whose behalf I approached city councillor Fenske. 
Hunger oedema, blood poisoning. [. . .] 

To my very amused surprise a book has appeared: For the Renewal of German 
Culture. It is the record of the KPD Cultural Congress in February, and my 
speech is printed there, exactly as I delivered it (in full swing - Tor God's sake!'). 
Some sentences incomprehensible due to mishearing, the whole thing peculiarly 
lively. 


1 7th April , Wednesday morning 

Spring. Very beautiful. But ... my neck, my eyes, my shoulder, the agony of 
walking, the memento. - Yesterday the Tuesday meeting at the TH. I counted 
24 colleagues. Old, old, old. Tobler, 66, is trying, via Klemperer-Vossler, to 
obtain a professorship in Munich. Heidebroek says: The separation from the 
German West is becoming ever more marked. We cannot appoint anyone from 
there, over there he has a pension etc., here he is taken on at one day's notice. - 
Main theme: our attitude to the new Berlin title 'Technical University'. 48 Heid. 
angrily quoted a crude article in the Tagliche Rundschau [newspaper]: The sig- 
nificance of the new title is, that now people are to be educated, whereas 
previously, in the Technical High Schools, the seat of military technology, 
'criminals' were trained. [. . .] The most profound reason for the dismantling 
and remodelling of our TH's is that abroad they are feared for their ' military 
potential ' ... [. . .] And the majority, myself included, in favour of the new 
designation, because one could not play second fiddle to Berlin, because other 
countries misunderstood 'High School', because England says technical uni- 
versity. 

After that there was lamentation and uncertainty about the state of our TH 
here. Its centrepiece paralysed. And we need engineers, there is already a short- 
age of new recruits to the profession. We must have industry - our agriculture 
can feed at most § of the population. Apart from that the Russians make us 
build the forbidden heavy machinery (forbidden to us) using pg engineers; 100 
pg engineers are working in Berlin, Junkers is building air plane engines 'like 
crazy!' according to the rector. 

[...] 


18th April , Thursday morning 

PHS office hour yesterday, because tomorrow Good Friday. The twin patrons 
Kiessig and Nestler: my lecture is to be printed immediately [. . .] run of 5000 
copies. So last night I was up until 1 making one of the two versions ready for 
press. Doubly sceptical: it is far too long, and in this form I cannot give it, and 
will it be printed in this form? [. . .] 

At 11 today there is a meeting with Becher [. . .] at the State Administration. 
(Becher will recite in the evening) [. . .] 

I am a kind of Dolzschen patriarch. Yesterday, as I am completing 'The People's 
High School 1946', Werner, a young enthusiastic KPD official calls: I must help 


114 


The Lesser Evil 


him. - ? - For a couple of weeks he has been teacher at the training establishment 
for police dogs and police-dog handlers; things are not going well, there have 
been complaints about the head of the establishment; he, Werner, has the task 
of observing, [...]: the man in charge is good, but too good-natured; the teachers, 
however, lack discipline and respect etc., even set the students against the chief 
trainer. And now he must write a report about this state of affairs, and that he 
finds difficult. Thus I dictated the report to him, word for word, in accordance 
with his account. (In the last Russian film I saw, people come to the village 
scribe: write me a letter!). Because of that, it was 1 a.m. before the lecture ms 
was finished. 

Just now at 7.30 Nestler had it picked up and let me know: Wengler died in 
hospital yesterday. He already told me yesterday: 'Losing strength, dying.' An 
unhappy man. My feelings: Relief, because his case was weighing on my mind; 
also: hurrah, I'm alive! 


20th April , Saturday forenoon 

[...] 

Thursday entirely taken up with Becher, in three parts so to speak. 

In the morning the meeting at the State Administration; he arrived late [...]. 
Then in the evening officially at the Ernemann Plant. Then 12 of the Chosen 
in the Guest House of the City of Dresden. 

Becher, thickset, chubby, round head, grey and bald, grey eyes behind spec- 
tacles, by no means like a poet, still less an Expressionist, revolutionary poet, 
completely the bourgeois, good-natured, concerned paterfamilias, civil servant 
or businessman of a senior, but not too high rank, not at all a 'captain of 
industry'. Agreeably simple in his speech, in his conversation, in the sim- 
ultaneously heartfelt and unsentimental delivery of his poems [. . .] 

I shall sum up what he said, half-chatting at the meeting, just chatting at 
table. Tremendous strength of reactionary forces, shallowness of the so-called 
change. No one did it, everyone was an anti-Fascist, had Jewish relatives etc. 
The Allies scoff. They are suspicious, one cannot blame the French if they want 
to hold onto the Ruhr: Junger 49 [. . .] is publishing again, comme si de rien 
n'etait, now with a democratic tinge, but basically the same, Gottfried Benn 50 
writes to me, as if we have always been friends ... But from this [spirit] of reaction 
Becher does not, for example, draw the conclusion of a certain intransigence - on 
the contrary! [. . .] He spoke a great deal in favour of canvassing in private 
conversation 'with 1, with 2, with 3 persons'; that was the only thing that 
worked with intellectuals. He strongly supported Menke-Gl.'s constant pleas for 
a clubhouse. In place of the unjustly mocked literary cafe. (With reading matter - 
difficulties of the zonal division, of importing newspapers and books.) Lord 
Mayor Leissner was present at the State Administration session. [. . .] He was 
directly addressed because of the clubhouse. In the evening in the Ernemann 
Hall, we were informed by Menke-GL, that on the telephone Leissner had made 
the villa at 37 Emser Allee available. [. . .] 

[...] 


April 1946 


115 


My personal affairs. 1) Agreed with Becher and the Aufbau editor. I shall speak 
in Berlin in the near future on something French. Hope through that for French 
books and a stipendium for a stay in Geneva. (I would like to produce a new 
' Modem French Prose ' and give it to the Aufbau Publishing House!) 2) Menke-Gl. 
asked me if I really wanted to become 'director of the Education Institute in 
Leipzig', as Fischer had told him. I responded: Mistake! I could explain how it 
had come about. I need to be professor of Romance Literature there, I had 
assumed the philosophical faculty will be replaced by an educational one - I fit 
into both. M.G1. in the old manner: Don't you want to speak to the colleagues 
there? I, calmly and matter-of-factly: no, that wouldn't lead anywhere, I must 
have a chair, the somewhat colourless von Jan should be shoved off to Jena or 
to the free chair of Romance languages. [. . .] M.G1. was not in the least shocked, 
seemed relieved, rather, merely admonished me in a friendly way, he knew from 
his own experience, Leipzig and Dresden was too much, I should give one of 
them up. I: with my own car both could be managed. [. . .] 

In the Ernemann Hall - several hundred guests; I sat right at the front in the 
row of honour - a quartet played a long piece by Hindemith, who is so acclaimed 
now. I do not understand him, but this time I did not find it quite so dismal as 
what I had heard before. Then B. read, with his head down and somewhat 
hunched over in an easy chair in front of a little table, that was far too low. 
Fatherland - Fatherland - Fatherland: next we shall have a pacifist National 
Socialism. 

Afterwards, at about 9.30 to the Weisser Hirsch in several cars. The Guest 
House appeared to me to be a villa on a lower terrace somewhere near Luisenhof. 
Anteroorh, cloakroom, dining room, elegantly laid table, waiter service. The 
food very much in keeping with the times: a soup, carrots, noodles, potatoes, 
meat sauce, a sweet blancmange. Nothing to smoke. But very good red wine and 
then very good sparkling wine. An altogether uncommon pleasure. [. . .] 

At the end, when I wanted to climb the long flight of steps up to the car, my 
heart failed me painfully. The memento. - Back at midnight. 


24th April , Wednesday morning 

Worked quietly on LTI [. . .] over Easter, but various people here nevertheless. 
The Dr Neumark household on a long Easter walk [. . .] from Reick. Very friendly. 
N. very disgusted by politics in general and by the KPD in particular and very 
much by its behaviour to Menke-Gliickert [...]. I could naturally only half or 
quarter contradict. [. . .] I wish I had the chair in Leipzig. [. . .] 

Out today immediately after breakfast. [. . .] To Nestler, meeting with the very 
active Frau N. in the small, crowded backroom, where half a dozen people are 
working and there's a constant coming and going of people delivering and 
picking up periodicals etc. etc. Wengler was buried this afternoon at 3; I could 
not go. I only found out towards 12 and at 4 I had to be at the Kulturbund in 
Schillerstr. and in between eat at home. [...] At home at about 1, out again 
before 3. Heart failing me, bad memento. Meeting of the Dresden branch at 


116 


The Lesser Evil 


Schillerstr. We set up the 'Literature' work group. Myself: chairman. Will speak 
in June: 'What we knew about France'. Back in the KB car. [. . .] 


25th April , Thursday morning 
I dealt with the following correspondence: 

1) Proposal to Becher, Kulturbund Berlin: 'What we knew about France'. Title 
is essentially Eva Blank's (instead of 'Image of France'). 

2) Letter to the Stuhlers 51 in Munich, who wrote. Bernhard's letter in the most 
ghastly Latin - but Latin nevertheless! They want to go to the USA. 

3) 'Dr Dr Weidhaas', Plauen. 

4) The Schemers. 

[..J 

7) Dr Mannhart, Hamburg, secondary-school teacher, Adviser for Language 
Teaching in Hamburg. They want to publish a modern languages periodical, he 
requests my participation. M. has my name from a Dresden newspaper, which 
a friend gave him in hospital. He asks about various Romance teachers, inter 
alia as to who holds the chair in Leipzig! With the barriers between the zones, 
one lives 'as if behind a Chinese wall'. [. . .] In my reply I mentioned my '§ 
complete' 18ieme, parts of it were very suitable for publication in a periodical. 


Evening 

The whole day ruined by a stream of visitors. 1. Wunderwald, Dember's tech- 
nician at the TH wants to be rehabilitated. 2. Ohmichen, a secondary-school 
teacher, wants to be rehabilitated and teach at the PHS. Don't know him at all. 
3. Martha Wiechmann from Meissen. Very meek and small. Very awkward for 
me. Emphasises, she wants nothing, but does nevertheless also want to be 
rehabilitated. 4. The Komanns. 52 Simply called by + requests a card for Sunday, 
PHS. 5) Glaser's ladies. 'Out for a walk.' 6) Wolffs, dispute with Kluge over the 
furniture. Hateful! He has called up Russian help. 7) A school leaver from the 
Wettin Grammar School for academic advice. 8) Schmidt jun. Where could one 
borrow medical textbooks? 


28th April , Sunday forenoon 

Today at 2 p.m. the PHS is to be officially inaugurated in the Tonhalle. Hundreds 
of invitations have been sent out, but there has been no announcement in the 
press or on the wireless. My study is good - but will I be able to deliver it without 
getting muddled? The brochure is to be printed - but paper has not yet been 
allocated. I have a sinking feeling about the whole affair. I also tell myself, any 
call to Leipzig depends in great measure on my performance today. 

I heard parts of Grotewohl's speech to the SED Party Congress of Unification. 


May 1946 


117 


In it word for word: The planned direction of labour deployment' corresponds 
to . . . complete identity of LTI and LQI. 53 


29th April , Monday forenoon 

I very much have the feeling: this at least has been achieved. All in all it can 
probably be registered as the desired success: the minor individual glory of 
having put my stamp on the new People's High School. The brochure {if it 
appears) will occupy a lasting and much-noted place in People's High School 
literature. The break with 1919, with Rousseau, the Enlightenment as watch- 
word! I spoke well, very well in fact and very calmly and confidently. But 
beforehand I suffered from anxiety and heart trouble, and afterwards I was very 
exhausted. I do not have much time left. The applause was very considerable, 
clapping for a very long time. I then got (Seidemann, Frau Hohndorf, Griitzner) 
as criticisms: a little too long (55 minutes). But two preceding welcoming 
speeches were to blame for their weariness [...]. I had to wait over an hour 
before it was my turn. - There had been no announcement in the paper, 
there was beautiful weather and the trees were in bloom, 2 p.m. was a most 
inconvenient time! Nevertheless the house was half-full, about 400 people I'm 
told. - Menke-Gl. shook my hand, I had 'expressed his feelings exactly'(!) ; 
Rentzsch and Dolitzsch agreed with me. Gertrud Keller, too [...]. Against that, 
a city and schools councillor, Roenisch, KPD, is supposed to have grumbled on 
political grounds. But it was very good politics on my part to emphasise freedom 
of thought within the Bloc. - On the whole, as already mentioned, a success. 
Whether and how it will have an effect, remains to be seen. [. . .] 

On Saturday I completed the article 'Autochthonous writing' for the LTI. 

[...] 


4th May ; Saturday forenoon 

Managed the chapter, 'Names', yesterday after all. [. . .] At 1.30 p.m. Gladewitz 
will pick us up for the Falkenstein-Plauen trip. Schemer sent word (an exces- 
sively long telegram!), I should come via Plauen. At that I asked Gladewitz to 
take E. as well. 

On Mond. evening, 29 April, with E. to a Kulturbund concert in the hall of 
the Versohnungskirche [Atonement Church], Schandauerstr. Lecture by Laux 
on the unity of German music, political inflection, a pianist with stamina, 
Eiben. It was awkward, when Blank somewhat presumptuously congratulated 
her in the name of the Kulturbund, while I as first chairman stood next to her. 
Later I gently pointed out the faux pas to the good 'secretary' and graduate 
economist. Locherer was there and afterwards sent me his car for the journey 
home - a good thing because of thundery showers. 

[. . .] In the [. . .] afternoon Laue came up. I crossed off 8 'rehabilitated' pg's 
from the list of teachers for the Evening Grammar School. 54 He is willing, but 
thanks to his stone deafness communicating with him drives me to despair. We 
sat in the hall. When I went into the room, to fetch a document, I heard familiar 


118 


The Lesser Evil 


sentences. Parts of my speech were just being broadcast: 'A lesson well learned', 
the conclusion, the loud applause. I did not recognise my voice, I felt embar- 
rassed by pauses, real breaks within sentences - yet I am always being told, I 
speak too fast with excessively brief pauses ...[...] 

Wednesday, 1 May, was the May Day celebration. The local council had sent 
a couple of little red paper flags; in the garage E. found an old piece of ticking 
of Berger's and made three big flags out of it. Thus our house was magnificently 
adorned. At 8 a.m. we went up to the village and then with the column of 
demonstrators from the inn to Plauen Town Hall. Then back to us, looking at 
the march-past of other groups. It was wonderful spring weather, E. expressed 
herself very happy at the turn of events both in itself and for our sakes. - Then 
in the afternoon up to the inn once again: concert, speech - quite nice. 

Thurs., 2 May, at the State Administration for an excessively long time, 
cultivating old contacts, fingering this and that. Most important the lengthy 
meeting with Gute, for which, admittedly, I had to wait endlessly. He declared 
repeatedly, that I would definitely get the Leipzig professorship. [. . .] I also spoke 
to Gladewitz. I once characterised him, the man in charge of the Information 
Section, to which the People's High School is attached, and the man with the 
fine Horch car (which was supposed, supposed!, to leave the repair shop yesterday 
evening), I once described Gladewitz here as a very small man, probably an 
insignificant reporter. I did him an injustice. He is at least a brave man. He 
fought in the Spanish Civil War, then in the French resistance, his family were 
meanwhile in Russia. His 17-year-old Sonja educated entirely in a Russian 
institution. He spoke affectionately of her. At the same time very cordial to me. 
I asked for a place for E. in the car, he had intended to take his wife and 
daughter, since he was district secretary in Plauen for a while. He talked to his 
daughter on the telephone, she wanted to go only as far as Chemnitz. Another 
car can take her there, said Gladewitz, and so there will be room for E. As already 
mentioned, I had the most friendly impression of the small, thickset, dark 
man - I estimate in his late forties. I am now curious to see, whether things 
work out with Plauen this time. 

[...] 

After that a brief letter from Schemer. His condition had worsened, he was 
dependent on a wheelchair. A second stroke therefore? Will then our mass visit, 
announced by telegram, be all right with him, and E. staying over night?? 

[...] 


7th May ; Tuesday morning and probably later in the day 

How can I separate private and official business on the Plauen trip? The friend- 
ship with Gladewitz - it really did become a friendship - is of course of the 
greatest professional value. The man, 48, originally a waiter, a weaver's son, a 
dozen or more siblings, not all of whom he knew, a KPD official at an early age, 
evidently best Party training and good self-education; outstanding, passionate, 
simultaneously direct and hearty political speaker, ready at a moment's notice 
and immediately up and running. Happy, that in summer 45, in Plauen, within 


May 1946 


119 


a few months, he made friends and encouraged the dejected. [. . .] The fine 
Horch came at about 3 and first drove us to Leuteritz Park, where the Gladewitzes 
have been given a little house with a huge kitchen garden. [. . .] Beside the 
driver, who is treated as one of the family, Gladewitz, his daughter on his knee, 
in the back Frau Gl., E., myself, squeezed but pleasant. The top up because of the 
draught. Again a most beautiful spring day; now and then I caught something of 
the familiar beautiful landscape. [. . .] With my great success and the completely 
transformed situation I felt moments of the purest happiness. E. felt the same. 
('On Sunday morning at the Schemers I lay awake in bed and was happy/ And 
then she repeated one of the walks from our time on the run. - It would be nice 
to be naive and sometimes thank one's maker and become pious. But the fate 
of the millions stamped out??) Drive not on the autobahn, but through villages. 
In Chemnitz parents and other relatives of Frau Gl. Drove around for a long 
time, the daughter was set down in Dittersdorf. We were in Falkenstein at about 
7. [. . .] Schemer not, as I had feared, badly crippled, only rheumatic and rather 
more awkward than before. I.e. agile in his pharmacy, simply has to be brought 
there in his wheelchair. Otherwise both Schemers unchanged and unchanged 
in their warmth. Immediate mutual concord between the Gl.'s and the Sch.'s. 
Hospitality with real coffee and little cakes, showered with good things such as 
soap, sweetener etc. etc. The following day I also got pens, ointment, etc., in 
addition my Montesquieu and Hettner's volumes on France and England. - We 
left E. in Falkenstein, departed after a good hour and were in Plauen as darkness 
was falling. I only knew: Weidhaas, Schlossstr. Not the number. While we were 
still looking, Gladewitz by chance met Hengst, his successor in Plauen, and now 
everything went smoothly. I only fleetingly made the acquaintance of 'Dr Dr 
Weidhaas' (engineering and phil. and town councillor) that evening, also saw 
him only a little the next day [...]. A beardless man, reddish-blond, somewhat 
sectarian-looking, malcontent, about 40. Gl. told me he was a 'religious Social- 
ist', reactionary in church matters, not much liked. Weidhaas himself com- 
plained to me on Sunday morning, he was in the wrong place, was wearing 
himself out on petty tasks, had personal enemies who were plotting against 
him - the S PD had sold no tickets for the forthcoming occasion - he wanted to 
leave. He is an architect, specialist in the history of Oriental architecture, would 
very much like to have an appointment teaching it, a lectureship, some kind of 
post at Dresden TH. It was now agreed, that I should right away drive with the 
Gladewitzes to have supper at a co-operative society celebration; the Gladewitzes 
would stay overnight with their friend Hengst, I would be dropped at my hotel 
. . . The car drove somewhere far out in the countryside. An inn, a place for 
outings, a very hot dancing room, tables along the sides, oompah band, beer and 
schnapps on every table, the evening well advanced. Gladewitz was welcomed 
literally with embraces and cheering. Was himself loud and emotional. (As to 
his character: on the drive there, the car suddenly stopped 'a hare!' Gl. snatches 
a pistol from his back pocket, 8 rounds in the magazine, jumps out with the 
driver, they kneel down, but Gl. does not fire. He had too much 'discipline', to 
fire when there was no certainty of success . . . 'Have you had military training?' 
'Of course! I was political commissar, after all. 55 He is senior to the battalion 


120 


The Lesser Evil 


commander and must be able to judge the combat situation/) I became 
acquainted with [. . .] various Party figures. We received a meagre portion of 
potato salad, but beer and even more, much more, schnapps [...]. I was very 
careful with the alcohol, Gladewitz drank copiously. He also danced frequently 
and well. And in between he gave an address, political and private, emotional 
and manly, cliche and yet not cliche, because quite evidently everything came 
from the heart. He was then royally pleased at his success, beamed at me again 
and again: have I not conquered these people, are they not devoted to me?! It 
went on like that until midnight. And then: we have to show our faces at 
another party, which the district administrator is holding tonight! 

Now we, a group of three cars, drove back into town, out at the opposite end, 
again far into the countryside, into a forest, probably to a lodge. There the same 
scene as in the previous place. Ordinary people, noisy and in high spirits, hall, 
band, dancing, schnapps. A grey-haired female district administrator dances 
tirelessly. Gladewitz dances, drinks, delivers short speeches, is ever more ani- 
mated, strokes my head, demands we address each other with 'du', wants to 
force me to dance. We finally leave long after 1. The Hotel Deil, near the station, 
formerly the most elegant of the wealthy industrial town. Side entrance over 
debris and rubble. We ring and knock for a long time, before a woman appears 
high up at a window, throws down a packet with keys. We descend to a cellar 
on a firm ramp (not stairs). Chaos, devastation. Up through a chute. Then above 
there's a magnificent room, except the ceiling is crumbling, scaffolding in front 
of the window (without glass, with wood or cardboard), no running water. But 
electric light and a good bed. - I slept late. [. . .] Various committee members in 
front of the theatre. Gladewitz appeared at the last moment. Fresh. But during 
the night he had fallen asleep in the bathtub, his wife had to wash and wake 
him. - Director's box, myself at the front in the middle. On stage a men's choir. 
Then Weidhaas read a fairly long official welcome. [. . .] Then Gladewitz. Again 
without notes, lively, encouraging, without cliches. Conclusion: now the con- 
crete instruction could begin. Then it was my turn. Until the last without a 
definite plan. But curiously calm. I simply conversed about this and that from 
my LTI. I had a dazzling chandelier in front of me and had to shield my eyes 
with my hand the whole time. But I spoke altogether fluently and freely and 
had (after about an hour) very good applause. Gladewitz could not stop singing 
my praises. Then there were two Russian gentlemen outside. A heavy dark 
civilian, lieutenant and local boss, and a young captain in uniform, Bernstein, 
evidently a Jew, speaking fluent German, in Plauen by chance, political editor 
of the Tagliche Rundschau. He asked for an article about my lecture [. . .] 

Departure at 4 p.m. A good hour later back at the Falkenstein pharmacy. 
Hearty reunion, many presents. Left at 6.30. [. . .] Detours and stop in Chemnitz- 
Dittersdorf. Home at 10. 

[■■•] 

This morning we received the first card from Gusti Weighardt in London. In 
the evening I attended - the back of beyond, Marienhofstr. Elementary School - 
the first political course held by Gute for the Dresden PHS. It was very nice. 
About 30 people of a very proletarian character. Gute spoke and taught without 


May 1946 


121 


notes and in very lively fashion, asked questions, got answers about the foun- 
dations of Socialism. [. . .] I had earlier shown him Gusti's card; he wanted to 
add something to our reply. On the way home there was talk of Gute now 
becoming minister of culture, of my being appointed at Leipzig. I said, then I 
would give up the PHS. He: then Gusti could be my successor in this post. We 
agreed that I would immediately write to her to this effect. 


10th May ; Friday evening 

LTI has come to a standstill once again. Recent days were taken up with the 
article for the Tagliche Rundschau, which only recapitulates the Plauen lecture, 
which itself was only an imitatio of my first lecture at the Begerburg, merely an 
overview, marking no progress. I ask myself once again, whether I shall manage 
to draw it [LTI] all together. I am unable to master all my scattered notes. 
Nevertheless: 14 sections are already written, some 50 or 60 printed pages. 

I was much distracted, had many errands and visitors. 

Everyone wants to be rehabilitated, in writing and orally, everyone rehabili- 
tated wants an evening teaching post, everyone showed a Jew kindness, expects 
my help. It is sickening. And there is no end to it. 


11th May, Saturday morning 

[. . .] The driver of the PHS car told me recently: 'Why do the Russians dismantle 
everything? They rip out every switch, every door handle. Why don't they just 
let us make 1 million new door handles instead? Why do they pull up railway 
tracks? Why do they allow factories to be rebuilt and then dismantle them 
again? [. . .] Everywhere among the workers the fear of unemployment, the 
disappointment by the Russians. Things are not going well with the KPD, it 
gets blamed for the Russians' mistakes. And the upshot will be a new NSDAP 
and a new agitation against the Jews. 

On Wed. 8 May [. . .] to police headquarters [. . .] for restitution of the old 
driving licence. When I at last found the room, it was closed. But in the 
meantime I bumped into Kussi, back from a trip to the western territory. His 
judgement: in the English zone the food situation is no better than here, in the 
American zone truly better. Intellectual separation of the zones is increasing, 
prospects of a united German state slim. Christian Union and Schumacher 
tendency [of SPD] in most absolute majority over there. 56 Aversion to Russia 
(which 'is not as bad as it is painted'), rejection of Communism and of 'Berlin'. 
Then again many want a united Reich. 

On Thurs. afternoon, 9 May, a Kulturbund meeting, literature section, at 
Schillerstr. (The beauties of spring - afterwards we went down to Kornerplatz, 
the road cut into the hillside, a high wall on one side, blossom hanging over 
it - quite Italian!) I am the chairman both of the city branch and of this section. 
As at the recent Laux-Eibentraut musical evening, the secretary, Eva Blank, was 
again somewhat presumptuous. I warned her quite clearly to toe the line. I then 


122 


The Lesser Evil 


welcomed Spamer, whom I have won over from the 'Research and Scholarship' 
section. He is now a member of the Berlin Academy of Sciences, has sim- 
ultaneously been offered a professorship at Berlin and at Munich. I would like 
him to talk about the creation of legends. And distinguish between legend and 
non-legend (Numberg trial!). - Then an evening of readings from Wiechert was 
discussed with the grey-haired actress Crusius. [. . .] The Totenwald [Forest of the 
Dead] concentration camp book too shocking? 57 We cannot only spare people's 
feelings, where would that leave democratic renewal?! So Decarli will be asked 
to read the Forest of the Dead. [. . .] 

Yesterday summoned to Gladewitz with Griitzner. The SMA is raising prob- 
lems for the PHS. We are to be a school, hold courses exactly on the Berlin model. 
Objections to lectures, to titles. A great deal is due to linguistic mis- 
understanding. [. . .] I would be overjoyed, if Leipzig worked out and Auguste 
Wieghardt were appointed my successor at the Dresden PHS. 


14th May ; Tuesday afternoon 

On Sun. morning with E. - resolution! - to the exhibition of graphics in the 
Arts and Crafts Museum, Durerstr. Balzer guided and talked, it was a Kulturbund 
event. [. . .] Interesting to me, was what Balzer said about contemporary painting 
of ruins. He compared it with the 18th century's cult of ruins. But the essential 
difference is this: the people of the 18th century did not sing the praises of their 
own ruins. To make ruins look melancholy may be very nice, if they became 
ruins 1500 years ago. But if my, my house is destroyed . . . The brutality of the 
destruction and the brutality of the new spring should be highlighted. 

In the afternoon Spamer called on us. I read to him at length from the LTI 
and he seemed truly and sincerely taken by it. E. again emphasised, that she 
found my approach between confession and scholarship quite new. [. . .] On 
Monday 13 May I tried in vain to get help with food at the KPD and 'Victims 
of Fascism'. Once again things looked bleak. [. . .] There was unpleasantness at 
the 'Victims of Fascism'. [. . .] Loewenkopf had assigned me a food parcel, which 
another official refused me. 

[•••] 


16th May , Thursday evening 

No special party, no special presents, 58 no possibility of better food: but yet an 
awareness of the degree to which the great question mark chose us above a 
million others. Sometimes one feels like turning pious, but I consider that 
immodest and impertinent. Today Eva planted 7 cucumbers, 50 tomatoes and 
some 80 heads of lettuce. In the afternoon I had a Kulturbund meeting 
(Literature) in Schillerstr., the KB car did not bring me back until almost 8. 

Yesterday evening, in the very overcrowded lecture theatre of the dermatology 
department of the Friedrichstadter Hospital, a very long and very boring hygien- 
ics lecture by Dr Grube. But various things by the way were important. [. . .] For 
the first time since the catastrophe of 13 Feb. 45 I spoke to the much-younger- 


May 1946 


123 


looking Dr Magnus. He believes, that both Steinitzes were killed. They had run 
towards Sachsenplatz, which was a sea of flames. Missing since then. [. . .] 

LTI yield of recent days: 'On a single working day' completed. ' "System" and 
"Organisation"' begun. 


19th May , Sunday towards evening 

[...] 

On Sat. morning (18 May) to the district headquarters of the KPD - no, SED! 
[. . .] Long talk with Gertrud K.; Staffel, whom I met with her, is her SPD deputy. 
She said: 'We have to educate the SPD to be a Marxist party.' She said, the 
forthcoming plebiscite on the expropriation of the factories 59 would demand 
tremendous work from each official. Every worker was personally attached to 
his boss - 'he's all right', 'I've been there for 30 years' . . . 'my father was already' 
. . . 'decent' . . . 'Christmas present' . . . etc. etc. In opposition to that the Party 
official must go from house to house, work on the people with precise statistical 
material and enlighten them about every industry, every industrialist having 
an interest in war and having funded the Hitler war, and if he remained owner, 
causing the next war - and inevitably so! [. . .] 

[...] 


25th May , Saturday forenoon 

Rather unproductive week with many calamities. 

[...] 

Rehabilitation questions occupy, torment me daily. I feel mistrust and con- 
tempt for everyone. Recently a woman here, blonde, stupid-looking, poorly 
educated. It turns out, her husband was the medical examiner at Sternplatz, 
who was friendly in his treatment of me despite my Jews' star and was taken 
aback, when I told him my profession. I am now supposed to confirm that for 
him - perhaps it will get him his post back, although a pg since 33. I provide 
the testimonial, and the woman pulls out her purse: 'what do I owe you?' I: 
'Really I should now take the paper back from you and tear it up.' She begged 
my pardon, she had meant no harm and departed. [. . .] Minor pg case, joined 
late, no position. Why did he not pursue rehabilitation. 'I cannot say, like all 
the others, that I was an anti-Fascist and only went along with it because I was 
forced to. I believed in the Fiihrer, even in 1945 I believed in him. I knew 
nothing about the atrocities, about the murders and concentration camps, I 
really knew nothing about it!' It is unbelievable - and it is undoubtedly expressed 
with a subjectively genuine sincerity. 

This scene on the 10th on the tram between Postplatz and Albertplatz also 
somehow belongs here. On the front platform a young man fairly wretched- 
looking, not at all Jewish in appearance, only his eyes were dark. He has - a 
rarity! - a real cigar, not a stub, in his mouth, although not smoking it. Two 
voices behind me. - 'A Jew ... of course. Well, if they come back now. Then 


124 


The Lesser Evil 


business is going to boom!' I saw the two of them as I got off. Young, very 
blond, brutal, very Nazi types. 

Among our visitors in recent days, Kussi and his Dutch wife. He: young people 
were thoroughly Nazi, thoroughly against the Communists and the Russians. - 
A letter from Lisl Stiihler in Munich: more Nazism and more anti-Semitism than 
ever. Bernhard St.: 'If my classmates knew that I'm Jewish, none of them would 
have anything to do with me!' In autumn they want to go to San Francisco. - 
Kussi said, that as a Jew one immediately got an entry permit. 

[...] 

[. . .] Vossler wrote yesterday - the letter, opened by the American censors, 
took a month to get here. V. is a member of the 'Union of Cultural Producers', 
but as a scholar does not wish to join any party. He reads nothing. Only 
administers the rectorship. [. . .] 

On the evening of the Tue. and Fri. I again taught German at Herbertstr. [i.e. 
Evening School] Almost entirely lecturing. Students rarely speak. I am still 
dealing with individual concepts: Classicism, Romanticism, tragedy, comedy, 
catharsis etc. etc. It goes smoothly and effortlessly, but afterwards I am totally 
worn-out and shattered. Beforehand I sit in a little on other teachers. [. . .] 


26th May , Sunday evening 

The last three weekdays were taken up with the fight with the SMA over the 
PHS. The headquarters here is causing tremendous difficulties through arbitrary 
interpretation of instructions from Berlin-Karlshorst. The former wants us to be 
a school with a fixed number of pupils, a small number of teachers with fixed 
salaries - the Kulturbund can take over everything university-like, fluctuating, 
lecture-like. 


28th May ; Tuesday night 

Letter from Northampton, England, from Max Sebba. He heard my name on 
the wireless. Jule Sebba is still living, likewise Frau Schaps after a stroke; Gerstle 60 t 


29th May , early Wednesday 

[. . .] It was decided to start the Whitsun holiday now [PHS and Evening 
Grammar School] and to extend it 'until further notice'; further: to travel to 
Berlin as soon as possible. Present state of affairs: Gladewitz, myself and Staffel 
(for the Saxon S ED) are to go to Berlin, probably on Friday. [. . .] 

So yesterday evening I gave the last German lesson for the time being at the 
Evening Grammar School. Great alarm among students and teachers at the 
provisional closure. I defended Russian mistrust and chaotic governing. After- 
wards a young man and a girl poured out their hearts to me: Absolutely 
reactionary mood. The Communists, the police, those in power have plenty to 
eat, confiscate, do everything 'just like' the previous regime, etc. etc. ... I spoke 


June 1946 


125 


optimistically. I am convinced, that the Hitler way of thinking is stronger in 
Dresden today than the Communist one. 

Worry about the plebiscite also comes under the heading of Reaction. It is 
only about expropriating the industry responsible for the war (but where is the 
boundary? Elastic!). But the petty bourgeoisie (and who here does not belong 
to the petty bourgeoisie??) fears for its property, fears for private property, fears 
the Communists per se. And the KPD is undoubtedly behaving in a two-faced 
and clumsy and unconfident manner. In the newspaper, it preaches that no one 
wants to touch private property, it emphasises the same in its meetings. But at 
the same time [. . .] it nevertheless emphasises, that we want a socialist state, 
that we only put up with the democratic state for the time being. [. . .] The 
outcome of the plebiscite is quite uncertain. 

[...] 

Yesterday morning, no TH session. Instead a long chat in Fraulein Mey's office 
with Janentzky, Spamer and the very likeable Straub, 61 who has re-surfaced. [. . .] 
I chat pleasantly, even warmly with Janentzky, he likewise with me. And yet we 
do not trust one another in the slightest. Whom do I still trust in Germany? No 
one! 

Deeply depressed by my skin complaint. Pain and disfigurement for months 
now. Again and again scabby, again and again my head bandaged. Now my ear 
is in a ghastly state, tomorrow it will be both ears. 

Evening, 11.30. 

[...] 

Visitors: Steininger, Berndt. In between the much-lamenting Frau Schmidt: 
Her dismissed husband is threatening suicide. I am trying to make the boy's 
studies easier for him. (2nd semester in natural sciences at Jena; would like to 
get into the overcrowded medical faculty.) 

[...] 


4th June , Tuesday evening 

Latest misfortune: a few days ago at the Party office I bumped against a bucket 
and hurt my shinbone. It has turned into an alarming inflammation, today I 
had to see Dr Frenzel, she is worried, ordered me to keep the leg up, poultices 
and rest. All of it lacking. Pain, handicap, serious worry. 

In addition extreme food shortage, literal lack. For 3 days now, morning and 
evening, barley soup, which ran out today. What is to be done? 

In the afternoon - wearisome journey there - long session with Dolitzsch 
about the People's High School. But tomorrow at least a KPD car will pick me 
up. Incidentally I bought a season ticket for the tram for June; dodging the fare 
was getting on my nerves. 

[...] 

A letter from Dr Mannhart in Hamburg: collaboration on the soon-to-be- 
revived Neuere Sprachen [Modern Languages]. Lerch is professor in Munster 
again. 


126 


The Lesser Evil 


For the LTI I wrote: 'What remains?' (Coventrise) 

[...] 


6th June, Thursday night 

[...] 

The first letter from Georg, dated 9 April 46. Youthful flawless handwriting, 
flawless English. He enlightens me as to the two types of angina, the nervous 
and the pernicious form with the quick end. He advises rest etc. Doctor, your 
advice is wonderful! - He has 11 grandchildren and is expecting the 12th. Otto 
Klemperer's eldest is just beginning his medical studies at Oxford. 62 The Jelskis 
are living ‘in difficult circumstances' in Montevideo. 

[...] 

9th June, Whit Sunday morning 

Holiday mood? Yes and no. The quick end, the torment of the scabies, the food 
shortage, the uncertainty about the Leipzig chair. D'altra parte: 63 a garden in 
bloom, myself a kind of little big shot. 

On Friday afternoon I was sound-filmed. It was tragicomically awful. Publicity 
film for the plebiscite. Closing scene of a Kulturbund meeting. I spoke the words 
(formulated by myself): 'So, ladies and gentlemen, we are agreed on that, we 
shall set everything else aside for the moment. The most important thing now 
is the plebiscite. Because the future of democracy depends on the result and 
with it the future of every one us.' When I repeated this speech for the fourth 
time, I began to trip over my tongue, and I had to recite it at least 8 times. Now 
the sound engineer didn't like a pause - 'more quickly please - more slowly 
please'; now a fuse blew, now Eva Blank cast a shadow over me . . . My fellow 
actors - only extras, but they were shown in close-up as I spoke - were E. Blank, 
Kneschke, Tobler, Wildfuhr. In addition to the ordeal of speaking, the dazzling 
light and the heat. Incomprehensible to me how actors produce great per- 
formances under these conditions, f. . .] 

In the Party House - now SED! - I was entirely surrounded by SPD people: 
G. Glockner, Staffel, Dolitzsch. Of course there was angry, almost bitter talk 
about the KPD. And my people (Gertrud Keller!) say: we want to turn the SPD 
into a Marxist party! [. . .] 


10th June, Whit Monday night 

Yesterday two very long letters to Georg and Marta, 

Today worked through the whole ms of my Deutsches Frankreichbild 1914- 
1933 [The German Image of France], sixty pages, serious pain in my face and 
eyes the whole time (usual inflammation due to sunlight + boils forming on 
my nose). 

[...] 

The day before yesterday in the course of a conversation about concentrated 


June 1946 


127 


food Dolitzsch told me with mild matter-of-factness, without any sense of 
outrage: 'Around Sachsenhausen concentration camp there was a track with a 
number of different sections (swamp, water, sand, asphalt etc.). Prisoners had 
to run . . . climb . . . wade etc. along it. As they did so, they received only pills as 
nourishment. Some died very quickly, others took longer to die/ [. . .] 

16th June , Sunday evening 

[. . .] On Friday I had to cry off a session at the State Administration, very unwise, 
since I am already more or less sidelined there. (Although Gute repeatedly 
promises me Leipzig.) 

All day yesterday it was doubtful, whether I would be able to speak in 
Weixdorf-Lausa. Nevertheless I had more or less prepared the lecture 'French 
Writers as Politicians'. Towards evening the stormy and rainy weather of recent 
days had improved, E. had bandaged me up, had a mind to come along herself, 
and so I went ahead. It turned into a nice family party, an oasis in the quite 
desolate sequence of recent days. The drive out was already pleasant, past 
Klotzsche air base in a comfortable car. After that the place itself; Weixdorf- 
Lausa Inn and the house and garden opposite. In the little house, Dr Lange and 
family, grammar-school teacher, not yet rehabilitated, harmless, in charge of 
culture and the local (camouflaged) PHS, favourite of the KPD mayor, teacher 
of modern languages, my student in 1928, very pleasant and likeable. The 
mayor, Krause, middle-aged, widely travelled oil engineer, calm good man, had 
provided L. with foodstuffs and so there was a wonderful supper, mashed 
potatoes and tinned meat. [. . .] Then in good spirits over to the inn. Large room, 
somewhat funereally decorated stage, orchestra, small grand piano, about 200 
people, perhaps more [...]. Music, speech of welcome by Krause, the mayor, 
then my speech, drawn from the wealth of material; Chenier, Corneille, Racine, 
Voltaire, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Chateaubriand, Lamartine, Hugo, Claudel - 
all in an hour. Hugo's exile and his return on 4 Sept. 1870 64 - polemically, here 
Gerhart Hauptmann had not gone into exile, Th. Mann not come back. Much 
applause of course. Then 'informal evening' with dancing. A good sweet wine, 
something to smoke - and once again one saw oneself Calvinistically confirmed 
in grace. [. ..] And around midnight the drive home, the driver a friendly 
policeman, formerly driving instructor. And we also got a little packet: a bit of 
beef suet, 6 eggs, white flour and sugar. That is the only important thing now, 

I would have refused a fee. At about 1 content to bed, and the next day as 
depressed as ever. - Dreadful always the matter-of-factness and the agreement 
in the stories of SS bestiality. Krause, who himself did labour in a camp, talks 
of the shooting of a long row of Jewish children. They were brought out of a 
truck in nightshirts. The troops had got schnapps and now shot the children in 
the back of the head. One child turned round; at that one man went off his 
head and fired in all directions. - A Jew's eye was knocked out, they stuffed 
cotton wool in the socket and made him fall in for work . . . 

Always the two-edged topic of rehabilitation. As already mentioned, Dr 
Lange is a good man : they should finally stop all this rooting around in what's 
past and the retribution. Well and good - but then when I see the mass of 


128 


The Lesser Evil 


those who have been rehabilitated and their shamelessness, et le reste ... It 
is very sickening. 


23rd June , Sunday forenoon 

[. . .] We, Lachmann, Dolitzsch, Griitzner, myself have been trying for days to 
have a meeting with the SMA. Now there's no interpreter, now the officers are 
not there, now the two sides miss one another. This whole week, by car and by 
tram, I have been quite futilely chasing around because of this business. Yes- 
terday finally a conference with a young Russian major, who spoke broken 
German and was very friendly. It was agreed, that we offer only courses and not 
individual lectures, with fewer teachers than before and with precise adherence 
to the generally permitted syllabuses. [. . .] So the courses start again on Monday, 
and on Tue. therefore I shall again be standing behind the lectern at the Evening 
Grammar School, and even merely teaching German there causes me problems 
and distracts me from my real tasks - and with every painful step, I realise how 
short my time is. 

[...] 

On 28 and 29 June there is a conference on teacher training at Berlin Uni- 
versity, Gadamer and Litt 65 are speaking; the TH wanted to send Janentzky (the 
dean) and Straub - the Central Administration, effectively the State Admin- 
istration here, has delegated me instead of Janentzky ... [. . .] My colleague 
Arthur Franz from Konigsberg, 66 now here without a job, tells me, that I would 
be held to be exploiting the political situation, if I pushed my way into Leipzig - 
on all sides I feel the hostility of my peers, and I shall certainly encounter the 
Leipzigers in Berlin: I must at long last have the call to Leipzig as backing, as it 
is I am falling between every conceivable stool. [. . .] 

My work this week with its innumerable expeditions and frittering away of 
time consisted of [. . .] 3 long letters. [. . . inter alia] long letter to Hilde Sussmann 
[. . .] an even longer one to Berthold Meyerhof, 67 who had sent a letter to Prof. 
Kl. 'Rector of the TH Dresden'. He, too, had somehow had word of the broadcast 
announcement of my appointment as director of the Dresden PHS, and had 
construed it just as mistakenly as Blumenfeld in Lima, from whom, via Wilhelm 
Jelski, 68 oboist at the Lima Opera House, it reached Georg. 

I had to spend more time on the talk for the Kulturbund, 'What do we know 
about France?', which I crudely cobbled into shape from my 1933 text 'The 
German Image of France'. I gave it on Friday evening in the small but very 
crowded hall of the Academy (to around 175 listeners) with apparently very 
great success: they clapped until I stepped forward once again and said that I 
was not a tenor. But afterwards Gute explained: he would have to discuss it with 
me, I had not spoken 'dialectically' enough. With that the evening was spoiled 
for me, because I am dependent on the Party, at least as long as I am not certain 
of Leipzig. 

[•••] 

Mannhart, Hamburg, writes to me frequently, with respect to the modern 


June 1946 


129 


languages journal planned by the publisher Westermann. He wants my France 
lecture for it. Lerch, at Munster again, is to edit the Romance Languages and 
Literatures section. I have not yet had any personal contact with Lerch. [. . .] 


27th June , Thursday forenoon 

Card from Lerch. His son fallen, Anna Lahmann gassed in Poland. He will 'not 
stay much longer' in Munster. 

[...] 

The plebiscite is in full swing. Posters, wireless etc. Not altogether skilfully. 
Dr Konig, the dentist: Since seeing the list of those to be expropriated - so 
many! so many! - I have become uncertain after all. To the Saxon or Dresden 
petit bourgeois it does indeed smack of Communism. (And they are not so far 
wrong!) - People were driven out in a 100 cars to Zeithain, to see the mass 
graves of the Russian prisoners there. But their number has grown all too rapidly 
in the newspaper. From about 80,000 to 140,000 dead. And Dolitzsch says, the 
business was organised as propaganda. The individual got to see only a pit with 
a few bones in it. (From someone else, admittedly: there were several such holes. 
In any case, no overall impression.) [. . .] 

Nestler, the bookseller, has been arrested [...] he is said to have been 
denounced. He was - I learned of it only yesterday! - a pg, but by arrangement 
with the KPD and active illegally; but he was also proprietor of a 'Wehrmacht' 
[army] bookshop. I only learned of the affair from Balzer, who is doing what he 
can for Nestler. After that, very curiously, from our hairdresser Gustl Kowacz. G., 
who was very welcome when he came yesterday evening, is now permanently 
employed as barber in the police prison - oh my memories! - and shaved 
Nestler. 

[...] 

Announced on the wireless yesterday: the conductor Otto Klemperer is return- 
ing to Germany and conducting in Baden-Baden. Strange. Why has he not long 
ago been named along with the other emigre musicians? I believed him dead. 
[. . .] What was my first thought? That my name, which is just beginning to 
become known, will now be drowned out again. 

Dolitzsch and Griitzner accuse me of grabbing at too many posts. They are 
not altogether wrong. And yet I would so like to be - the [local] elections have 
just been announced for 1 September - city councillor, one of 80. 


30th June, Sunday afternoon 

Very hot, very worn out by the two days in Berlin. Puffed up and inwardly 
torn: Leipzig? - Greifswald? - nada? 69 - mors? 70 Overwhelmed with work and 
incapable of it. Read correspondence, ordered papers a little. Sent my excuses 
to Munich [i.e. to the publishers in Munich, Klemperer now intended to publish 
his LTI with the Communist house Aufbau, see below]. Morning: election, 


130 


The Lesser Evil 


plebiscite, up at the inn. Great crush. But the final outcome is doubtful never- 
theless. 71 [. . .] 

Now the trip to Berlin 28 and 29 June, Frid. and Sat. Invitation by the 
Central Administration for Popular Education to a conference on 'Philosophy, 
Educational Theory and Psychology in the University Studies of Teachers'. 
Sessions in the Senate Chamber of the University, 43 Charlottenstr. (Corner 
Dorotheenstr., opposite the red ruined wing of the Friedrich Werdersche 
Grammar School, which I attended exactly 50 years before.) 

The principal event is still Greifswald and, therefore, crumpled Herr Jacoby 72 
in front of the lectern, with his ear trumpet, professor of philosophy and dean, 
very conservative, it seemed to me, very forceful during the discussion - and 
courting me as if I were a diva. 'If you give me just some grounds for hope, if 
you allow me to propose you ... We need an important man. You must be our 
prorector. You do not need to lecture on Old French, you'll have someone to 
do it for you. You will have a house and garden. You will have peace and quiet 
to write your books. As a Victim of Fascism your salary can be higher. The only 
thing we cannot give you is a car. But you don't need one. We are a small 
town (50,000 inhabitants) and 3 miles from the sea. From here I am going to 
Schwerin. 73 To propose you to the government [of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern]. 
If you give me even the least grounds for hope . . .' Thus, tempestuously, on 
Friday. Then on the Saturday a fraction cooler, but very earnest and definite. 
[. . .] I emphasised that there was nothing binding between us, I considered that 
I had given my word to the Saxon government. - Of course it raised my self- 
confidence, and since then my thoughts have been regularly drifting off in the 
same direction: sea, quiet, king of the village, being able to write books, not 
being pulled in different directions. And E., too, has to some extent been drawn 
into this fantasy. 

At the same time I let the cat out of the bag as far as the Leipzigers were 
concerned. Gadamer, man in his early 40s, slightly paralysed (infantile 
paralysis), ignored me on the first day, but on Saturday came up to me very 
respectfully and courteously, was entirely in the know. Yes, but if von Jan did 
not want to go to Jena, my view of self-administration was not shared in Leipzig, 
further compulsory measures on the government's part would cause another 
mass exodus of colleagues to the West. I said [. . .] Jan could be given the 
language chair. Gadamer relented: did I want to take all of Lit. Hist, away from 
Jan? I: Not at all, there were so many topics after all! 'But I must have the chair 
of Literary History [...]- that is my area, that is where I have proved myself, 
there he is colourless, that is what I must teach the students.' We parted very 
amicably. [. . .] Litt, grown grey, but little changed, brave, stubborn and eloquent, 
greeted me most warmly on the first day, was honestly and of his own accord 
shocked at the Nazi horrors, but was astonished, when he heard of my assault 
on Leipzig. [. . .] If I am really appointed to Leipzig, I will have a fight on my 
hands. And again and again I hear, as now from Hentschke: 'Will Leipzig and 
Dresden not be too much for you?' All of that speaks in favour of Greifswald. 
[...] 

And my agreement with the Aufbau publishing house points to Greifswald, 


June 1946 


131 


very much so. Hentschke had given me the car for Saturday morning, I cut the 
psychologist's lecture and went to Schliiterstr. in Charlottenburg. Result: I 
promised Scholarship Renewed by 1 Jan. 47, the LT1 by 1 Oct. 46. I took on a 
Becher study. It will of course be impossible for me to keep to those dates. But 
the Aufbau head insisted, he was not making any contracts for any longer 
period of time - di doman non c'e certezza. 74 

In Berlin I got least out of the proceedings themselves. That is only to a very 
minor extent due to tiredness and heat. I have absolutely no understanding of 
and no ability to take in pure philosophy. It causes me a great deal of effort to 
uphold the fiction that I understand something of it. Gadamer's 'The Importance 
of the Philosophical Conception of the World for Teacher Training' was com- 
pletely obscure to me, I had difficulty fighting off sleep. I picked up this and 
that from Litt's 'Importance of Educational Theory for Teacher Training', but 
was infinitely bored, I couldn't follow it. [. . .] There were 60, 70 people from 
the universities of the Soviet Zone, from the Central Administration and another 
couple of the elect sitting there, listening to lectures and then endlessly talking 
around and missing the point of the topic. [. . .] 

More important, although also confused and on the whole fruitless, was the 
committee meeting on Saturday afternoon, in the Central Administration itself, 
on curricula. 16 participants, 3 of them Russians. [. . .] Afterwards I shook hands 
with Brugsch. 75 He had known Georg and Felix 76 well. - 1 made friends with the 
people from the Central Administration: Rompe, Deiters. 77 D. is a scholar and 
has completed the ms of a Sainte-Beuve study. 78 (So naturally very friendly to 
me!) 

For me, therefore, the actual core of this Berlin trip was the least important 
thing about it. But now everything else. 

[...] 

On Friday evening I wanted to seek out Anny Klemperer, from whom I have 
heard nothing more, since, at the beginning of the war, I gave the necessary 
answer to her remark about German culture saved from the Russians. I went 
through the Brandenburg Gate on foot - 2 of the horses on the quadriga are 
missing! - Ebertstr., Potsdamerstr. dreadful devastation, in places nothingness. 
[. . .] If I ever write the final volume of my Curriculum, then I would have to 
describe this walk. How many memories, how many dead! I went on this walk 
on 29 June, 79 it took me past the house in which I visited E. in summer 1904. 
As I walked I told myself, Berlin was after all no better off than Dresden. On 
Privatstr., which is now called Bissingzeile, one tiny house has not been 
destroyed, no. 1 1. Through an open window an old woman told me: 'Klemperer? 
Yes, they were bombed out in no. 7, the caretakers are still there.' No. 7 was a 
ruin; behind an elegant cast-iron railing a young couple was working in an 
overgrown garden. I worked my way through the rubble to the railing and 
started a conversation. Yes, the old lady was very hard of hearing, but otherwise 
she was well; Georg was an engineer, Peter was studying, she had moved to 
Grunewald, 15 Falterstr., with an elderly cook. I would easily get there with 
the underground from Kurfurstenstr. So I walked to Kurfurstenstr. Here 
Potsdamerstr. is not quite so destroyed. Again memories! When I reached 


132 


The Lesser Evil 


Wittenbergplatz on the underground, it was about 8.30, the last train in the oppo- 
site direction from Dahlem to Berlin was due to leave at 9.30. At that I gave up the 
journey. [...]. Terrible crush in the train, even worse than in Dresden. [. . .] 

[...] 

At the Kulturbund a great deal was discussed in half an hour. 1) My speech 
ms had arrived. We agreed that I will come to Berlin with E. and by car for 
Sunday. Perhaps there will also be a car going to Ahrenshoop. [Through the 
Kulturbund the Klemperers had the privilege of a seaside holiday beginning on 
8 July.] If not, then God will have to lend a hand. 2) They wanted Scholarship 
Renewed in 8 weeks! The young man in charge of this section said quite scorn- 
fully: a contract for next Easter? Who knows, which of us will still be here by 
then?! We agreed on the 1 of January. 3) They want to take on my LTL For 1 
October. I prefer Aufbau to the Siiddeutsche Publishing House. Here the Sud- 
deutsche Zeitung [newspaper] is constantly attacked as reactionary and Bavaria 
is for us and the Russians increasingly a hostile foreign land. [. . .] 


5th July, Friday forenoon 

Sweltering tormenting heat for days, always errands, meetings, time-wasting, 
bother, not a moment for the LTI, yearning for Greifswald. [. . .] 


Evening 

[...] 

E.'s lymphatic inflammation has subsided. So tomorrow the trip to Berlin and 
Ahrenshoop, more difficult and more of an expedition than the journey to Rio 
and Buenos Aires once was. 


Ahrenshoop , 8-17 July + Berlin trip, 6-7 July 


12 July 1946, Saturday morning. E.'s birthday 

E.'s first words, at about 5 a.m. - we don't have a clock: 'What I want as a 
birthday present, is that we go home a week early!' My feelings exactly and we 
will manage it somehow, even though 2 weeks have already been paid for [...]. 
We are suffering far too greatly here. Above all: we are starving, starving as in 
the worst days in Falkenstein. And we are bored. Noisy, overcrowded recreation 
rooms, staying on the beach made impossible by a strong, cold, unremitting 
wind, we are too tired to go for long walks, and the district has nothing to offer 
which could not be seen in two circuits. And at home things are all right - why 
be worse off here? Food shortage here as there, and at home we can perhaps 
buy something on the black market, here there's not even that . . . The sea is 
beautiful as always, there is even a strong surge, but everything else - Irun n'est 
plus Irun. 80 Perhaps also: we have grown old. [. . .] 

The days creep by. Our spirits are very low. Everything that formerly made a 


July 1946 


133 


stay on the Baltic coast pleasant: seafood, the cafes everywhere on one's way, 
the trips by boat and on land, even the sociability is absent. We are alone, not 
very mobile and always hungry. 

[...] 

Before dinner today we went to Michaelsen and said, because of our poor 
health we had to depart early. He was very accommodating, a surplus amount 
of money and coupons which had already been provided for 14 days would be 
given back to us, we shall travel back on Mon. via Rostock - without Berlin. We 
both heaved a sigh of relief [. . .] And as far as the Kulturbund is concerned - je 
m'en fous. 81 [. . .] Most of the visitors appear to be Kulturbund connected, i.e. 
actors, literary people, musicians and the like. - 1 suspect Ahrenshoop, like this 
whole coast, was judenrein [free of Jews] and Nazi a piu non posso during the 
Weimar years. [. . .] 

I shall now catch up on the two days in Berlin, the Kulturbund anniversary and 
the mishap. This then was the programme for the evening of 7 July at 7 p.m., 
as it appeared on big posters on the advertising pillars. 'Meeting in the Large 
Studio of the Broadcasting House, Masurenallee. The speakers: Jonannes R. 
Becher, Ricarda Huch, Prof. Stroux, Wolfgang Langhoff (Diisseldorf), Prof. 
Bennedik, Prof. Krauss (Marburg University), Horst Lange (Munich), Prof. 
Pechstein, District President Dr Friedensburg, Prof. Klemperer (Dresden), Klaus 
Gysi, Cathedral Preacher Kleinschmidt (Schwerin). 82 Music by the Berlin Radio 
Symphony Orchestra/ In fact, Werner, the limping lord mayor, 83 was first to 
speak, roaring banalities and Becher was already very long. After that Rector 
Stroux long, boring and sticking to his ms as did everyone with the exception 
of Bennedik, brown, intelligent eyes, the director of the Berlin Academy of 
Music. Huch had excused herself by telegram, in her place Plievier, a grey-haired 
scraggy little man with a minor speech impediment, read something from a 
sheet of paper. But much too long and hackneyed. The well-behaved public 
clapped. And when Bennedik talked with great liveliness about Nazism's con- 
cepts of honour the audience was enthusiastic. But then came the catastrophe: 
Krauss, the teacher of Romance languages and literatures and KPD veteran, 
student of Vossler and Spitzer, 84 mid-40s, we had made friends, I expected and 
still expect a great deal of him. His subject: The situation of the universities. He 
said he wanted to annoy people, and I was expecting fierce words against 
reactionary forces. Instead he whispered (in substance no doubt very solid) 
endless statistics from a sheet of paper, barely audible even in the front row in 
which I was sitting. The audience became restless. Heckling: Louder! - Time! - 
We want to hear the others - Louder ... I do not at all think this was because 
of the content. One gentleman (from the Kulturbund) indignantly told the 
innocent audience, if one was a genuine democrat, one also had to listen to the 
other side. Krauss, too, appeared to think he was being opposed and felt duty 
bound to go on reading. People clapped in time, to get him to stop, he waited 
patiently and went on reading. Yet it was already late, after 9, and very many 
people were dependent on the underground, which did not run very late. 
Irritated, Willmann came up to me. 'He's mucking up our whole evening - but 


134 


The Lesser Evil 


I can't tell him to stop. Would you be cross with me, if I took you off the 
speakers' list?' I said: yes, I would be very cross. [. . .] Krauss finally called it a 
day, there was provocative frenetic applause. Pechstein spoke against kitsch. 
There was applause, more and more people left, it was getting on for 10 o'clock. 
I went out into the corridor. There was a despairing debate going on. I resisted 
being dropped. I said, it would be an insult to the Dresden KB. - 'But you'll be 
talking to empty benches!' Inside meanwhile the economist Friedensburg had 
begun to speak. Finally it was announced: We are now going to break off and 
the remaining speakers (Klemperer, Kleinschmidt, Gysi [. . .]) will take the floor 
at a later date. Willmann placated me, there would be a special meeting on my 
return from Ahrenshoop - I did not believe him, but had to acquiesce [...]. 
Everyone then shot off without taking leave, I did not catch sight of Willmann 
or Krauss or Kleinschmidt again. We drove back with Kneschke and he resolved 
to clearly voice the necessary criticism in the next day's secretarial and business 
meeting. [. . .] Thus the Berlin trip completely failed its purpose. 


13th July ; early Saturday 

But otherwise there were a number of interesting and also worthwhile things. 

First of all, to stay with the evening in the broadcasting studio. [. . .] At the 
end while 1 was conferring with my people, a blond boy I did not know spoke 
to me: 'Uncle Victor!' I immediately put two and two together: my nephew 
Peter, whom I had never , literally never seen before. They had moved again, 
from Grunewald to nearby Heinrich Stefanstr. (we were at the radio tower, far 
out in Westend), his mother was passably well, his brother Georg, 'exactly 10 
years older, I'm 17 now, about to take my leaving certificate', in Hof [in Bavaria] 
at the moment, looking for a job - he is a high-frequency engineer. I promised 
[. . .] to visit Anny Klemperer on the return journey. [. . .] 

Peter Kl. must have taken me for a tenor or a boxer. Because when I stepped 
out into the anteroom, in which the discussions were taking place, two pho- 
tographers dragged me into a brightly lit corner with a chair and a folding 
screen, sat me down and snapped me repeatedly. I asked: why, what for? - 1 had 
not even been allowed to speak. - That didn't matter, I was after all 'at the 
centre of cultural life', so they had to have my picture for the Russian news 
agency. (But [. . .] it is no longer any kind of distinction, to have one's picture 
in the newspaper. Tom, Dick and Harry are in it by the dozen every day.) 

On Saturday 6 July Kneschke picked us up at 10 a.m. [. . .]. Shortly before that 
the Zabel twin sisters from the Evening Grammar School, who recently pres- 
ented me with a basket of fruit, had sent two little baskets for the journey, 
plums, apples, peaches. The woman who brought them said: the twins' parents 
had more than 60 acres of orchards in Weinbohla, they were doing very well, I 
could easily accept the fruit. 

We drove leisurely, ate fruit, rested once in woodland by the motorway. In 
Berlin, Schumann, the driver, [. . .] did not know the way, / guided him [. . .] to 
Schliiterstr. Everywhere memories for E. and myself, everywhere destruction. E. 
was seeing Berlin for the first time, I for the fourth time. Chaos at Schliiterstr. 


July 1946 


135 


Meeting with Becker did not take place, he barely saw me. We received the 
programme, were assigned to the Adlon Hotel [...]. In a canteen of the large 
building [. . .] we were able to get the most meagre leftovers of a lunch for cash 
payment: cold fruit soup and potato salad. - Here Werner Krauss introduced 
himself to me, the most important acquaintanceship, actually the only new 
one of this trip. Mid-40s, slim, tall, boldly swept back dark blond mane of hair, 
more artistic than scholarly type. From his whole manner, he is the last person 
whom I would have expected to fail as a speaker. KPD member and cultural 
revolutionary. Talks with great contempt of Jan, who wrote a wretched covert 
and grovelling anti-Semitic Lit. Hist. [...]. Calls himself 'primo loco His- 
panicist'. 85 Strongly advised me against Greifswald, thinks Leipzig is my due. 
We talked at length at the club the following day, then in the evening sat 
together in the front row of speakers. [. . .] I have not seen him since. 

From the KB we drove to the Adlon, whose ruinous condition and sur- 
rounding ruins I was already used to, but which made a very fresh and strong 
impression on Eva. I was greeted as an old acquaintance [. . .] I had [. . .] with 
me a letter from Loewenkopf to Nelhans, head of the Jewish Community, 
Oranienburgerstr. [...]. It turned out that instead of the man's private address 
Loewenkopf had given the office in the hardly damaged synagogue, and there 
no one opened up for us. So we made use of the late afternoon for a little walk 
through the immediate neighbourhood: Ziegelstr. (where Berthold tutored me 
in his student lodging), the River Spree, the Museum Island in the distance. 
Above all, the most moving impression of this trip: the Jewish Reform Synagogue 
in Johannisstr 86 It stood - stood - at the back of a large courtyard. I had religious 
instruction in the house to the side. The house in ruins, the synagogue itself: 
its frontage a heap of rubble. Behind that a nothing, no roof, no wall, a surface 
of rubble. Beyond this nothing, there was the rear wall and a suggestion of the 
vaulted cupola preserved like a stage flat. In the wall the altar niche and above 
it two tables of the law with Hebrew lettering. I thought, how often did I see 
father standing there . . . There was a rattling and scraping from the rubble-filled 
rooms beside us. After a while a man came scrambling out, an enamel sign in 
his hand, which he rubbed enthusiastically. Evidently a looter. He said quite 
unselfconsciously to us: 'You can't get something like that at all now, and it's 
really needed!' On the sign were the words: 'Please adjust your dress before 
leaving.' 

[...] 

On Sunday morning we stayed late at the hotel, then with Knescheke to the 
Komodie, a little theatre a long way down the Kurfurstendamm. Box; I dozed 
off and really slept. Recitations, again and again Goethe, Schiller, Holderlin. 
[. . .] Admittedly I was very tired and pre-occupied. - We drove back to the hotel, 
rested a little while and then went to the club, a few yards away in Jagerstr. My 
knowledge of it is derived in part from stories, in part from the report in the 
Tagliche Rundschau [...]. An imposing palais-like building dating from 1 892, first 
the club of an association of big landowners and industrialists, then (under 
Hitler? already before Hitler? 87 The article mentioned Papen 88 and the year 1939) 
the Gentlemen's Club [Herrenklub] . The hardly damaged building has been 


136 


The Lesser Evil 


repaired. The parquet of the huge dining room - several hundred of us sat at 
long tables - comes from the Reichskanzlei, 89 it was said: from Ad. Hitler's 
rooms. The feed at 2 was substantial, but proceeded fairly stiffly. [. . .] Krauss sat 
beside me. After the dinner we sat and stood around in other rooms. ('Dinner' 
of course in keeping with the times: a soup, a plate of vegetables and a decent 
piece of meat, a little bit of jelly, a glass of schnapps and a beer. (A meal like 
that used to cost 60 pfennigs at the station, said E.) We went for a short walk in 
the neighbouring streets, we got tea and cakes at the club, later a soup for 
supper. Chatted to Krauss [. . .] 

I am writing on the verandah, it is 10.30 in the morning, Saturday 13 July. E. is 
sleeping, / went for a swim early in the morning. 

[...] 

Here we are abroad. What do we know about Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, 
about Schwerin? What do they know here about Saxony and about Dresden? 
And yet we are both in the Soviet Zone. What must it feel like, when one goes 
to the West? There is no Germany any more, only individual districts, petty 
states or colonies of various countries. 

Now it is certain that we are going home on Monday, our mood has improved, 
and we are enjoying, what there is to be enjoyed here. 

[.••] 

(20 July Dres.) The day [Monday 15 July] was frittered away in preparations and 
waiting, we did not make any more excursions. We drove off in the late 
afternoon - in the luxurious car of the Rostock Police Chief, Scholz, a young 
man, who to his driver's concern took the wheel himself and wanted to show 
us how well he could drive, and how fast - because who would book the chief 
of police? At times he went over 55 miles an hour before braking abruptly. It 
was not altogether safe and to the driver's sorrow wore away the most irre- 
placeable rubber. It had taken months of work to assemble and 'organise' the 
vehicle. Howitzer covers had been used for the splendid leather seats. [. . .] 

For the first time we had bad luck with the weather: it rained heavily. In 
Rostock we would have got neither lodging nor food without the Police Chief's 
help. Even with his help we were still in difficulties. Hotel and restaurants were 
allocated to us in different places and with the luggage and in the pouring rain 
we were dependent on ourselves and on the tram. [. . .] The fast train, coming 
from Warnemunde, left Rostock at 6.30 a.m., was due in Leipzig at about 5.30 
p.m. [...]. I had sent a telegram to Trude O [in Leipzig] on Sunday, it was not 
forwarded until early on Monday, would it have reached Trude in time? [. . .] 
Trude Ohlmann was not at the station and we went off to Bussestr. feeling 
somewhat worried. We found her, however, well prepared. She is (at 55) more 
lively and youthful than I had supposed, has to her advantage become slimmer, 
but not skinny. She welcomed us enthusiastically, but without the anticipated 
hysteria. She is still hoping for the return of her [son] Claus, who was shot 
down and reported missing in 43 as an aircraft radio operator in the far north 
of Russia. - We were touchingly fed, slept on the same landing in the bedroom 


July 1946 


137 


of her recently widowed sister. Husband died in a POW camp. The next day, 
Wed. 17 July, with Trude to the Deutsche Bucherei [library], where she has now 
been a middle-ranking employee for exactly 25 years. The building battered, 
under repair, but the thing as a whole is standing nevertheless. Round about it 
everything is used for vegetable patches - one of them in Trude's charge. [. . .] 
Appointment by telephone with Fraulein Triepel at Teubner [publisher]. - Ate 
with Eva in the ratskeller. Large, well-run restaurant. This is the trade-fair town 
after all! [. . .] While E. went home, I called on Triepel at 1. The badly wrecked 
Teubner building in Poststr. Triepel a refined lady in her late 50s [...]. We chatted 
for almost 2 hours [...]. I expounded very generally my long-term plans. 1) New 
edition of History of French Literature in the 19th and 20th Centuries 90 in one simple 
volume, extended to 1945, text German and French, French quotes in the 
appendix: 1,000 printed pages. 2) The 18th Century 2 vols of 600 pp each, in 
German - French originals in the appendix. 91 3) Modem French Prose extended 
to 45. [. . .] No binding commitment was made on either side. [. . .] I said, at the 
moment I was working with the Aufbau publishing house; but to me for my 
life's work Teubner was ultimately the most appropriate publishing house. - We 
were due to leave at 5.30, the train did not pull out until 6.30 and came to a 
halt x times afterwards; it was due at Neustadter station at 8.30, it arrived 
towards 10, then there was a fight at the left luggage office [...]. Finally we did 
manage to catch the last tram. We arrived up here exhausted and woke up Frau 
Rasch with our knocking. And so that was on the evening of 17 July. 


20th July 1946 , Saturday afternoon. Dresden 

The lines about the return journey and one letter of the many to be written, is 
all that I have been able to manage thus far. Constantly on the go in extreme 
mugginess, heart problems yet again. The day slips by arduously and emptily. 

[. . .] On the 31st I am to chair a youth debate: What is humanity ? I have been 
searching for suitable quotes from the classics. I have only Schiller to hand - 
useless. [. . .] Eva Blank told me, that today, 20 July, there is a big ceremony 'The 
new Dresden'. I did not get an invitation. 

Chasing after one took up most of Friday. [. . .] I only had one ticket for the 
preceding Magic Flute in the Tonhalle; I gave it to Eva, whom I shall pick up 
there. [. . .] 


21st July , Sunday forenoon 

I got to the Tonhalle at 8.30 yesterday, to meet Eva. I was allowed into the 
boiling hot theatre, and from a seat at the very back saw and heard more or less 
the final act of the Magic Flute [. . .] Without pleasure. I find the plot, which as 
a whole I do not know, the mummery and also the music half-childish, half- 
childlike! Apart from that everything was all too squashed and basic, taking 
place on a bare stage and without the usual props and too often in darkness or 
gloom. Perhaps it should have been sung entirely in modern dress and without 
any production at all. [. . .] 


138 


The Lesser Evil 


At about 9.30 we drove with the Grubes, in the Grubes' car, to the Luisenhof. 
Little tables laid in several rooms for a large crowd of people [. . .]; only in one 
room a large horseshoe probably for the very top of the official tree (but 
Gladewitz was sitting at a little table beside us). Two official toasts then emanated 
from the official horseshoe, which no one in our room understood. [. . .] We sat 
with the Grubes. I made the desired contacts with many people, against all 
expectation I pulled some strings here and there. At our table Frau Fenske. She 
spent 10 years in prison, was given the death sentence, then commuted to life 
imprisonment, she still has a voice impairment. At the next table the Glade- 
witzes. Renewal of friendship, reminder of the promised suiting from Elsterberg, 
of the print permit. [. . .] Very animated, we stayed until after 3. The Grubes 
drove us home. To bed at 4.15 in high spirits. Thus do my moods change. Today 
somewhat washed out, but the high spirits remain. 


28th July , Sunday morning 

[..J 

Session at the TH. Nothing has changed. Gehrig and Janentzky are tame and 
courteous to me. Gehrig desires to give a lecture in the Kulturbund. Janentzky 
is dropping Kuhn, 'realises' . . . Lends me Jan's Literature Manual, the lack of 
equivocation in it will finish him. [. . .] 

I come home late and exhausted from such forenoon errands; then fall asleep 
over eating, then there's some visitor or some kind of distraction, and then the 
day is over - without LTI. 

[. . .] Directly before going to the State Admin, on Wed. morning I met Dr 
Kretzschmar. Very agitated: his stepfather, Neumark, arrested 2 days ago - Jewish 
denunciation. [...] I offered my testimony. Cohn, the investigating public 
prosecutor, a returned emigre, had been cold and hostile. [. . .] I literally bumped 
into [Chief Public Prosecutor] Schroder. [. . .] He made it possible for me to 
meet Public Prosecutor Cohn immediately. Eloquent Jew with foreign accent 
(Hungarian?) suspicious, cold, guarded. About 38-40. Became more friendly, as 
he gradually understood my position. I explained to him psychologically, how 
such denunciations came to pass, how exposed the clover leaf, Katz-Neumark- 
Lang, was. I [. . .] said of Neumark: 'I vouch for him with everything, that I am 
and have.' Twice Cohn expressed something characteristic. Once I said: 'On my 
word of honour.' He: 'Also on your honour as a Communist?' - Then: I said I 
had formerly known no one from the Jewish community. 'You are not affiliated 
to any faith? - Neither am I!' (He became friendlier.) Evidently a fanatical 
Communist and nothing but. I to him, as already earlier to Kretzschmar: one 
could easily have become an anti-Semite in the Jews' House. He: one has to see 
it in terms of the Jews' situation. [. . .] During the next few days Kretzschmar 
came to my PHS consulting hour, and his mother called on us up here in the 
evening. The family is trying to find character witnesses. Nothing appears to 
have been achieved thus far. N. has been inside for a whole week. Frau K. is 
terrified (and not without reason) that he could be hanged without being guilty. 
President Friedrichs has refused to receive Kretzschmar, even though he knows 


August 1946 


139 


N. well. And Gute, when he heard of my intervention, blurted out in alarm: 
'Look, be careful!' It can cost me dear. 


30th July , Tuesday morning 

Awkward as the Neumark affair is also that of his stepson, whom from now on 
I shall call New Kretzschmar, since the painter Kretzschmar has just turned up. 
Laux tells me that New Kretzschmar had put his foot in it with his boss Gute 
and so had to go. [. . .] 

[...] 

On the forenoon of Sunday the 28th, in the hall of the Academy, a discussion 
on the 'Realist Conception of Art'. Frightful cliched babble of a number of 
speakers, obscure muddle of some replies. I sat in the front row and repeatedly 
nodded off, was annoyed at the waste of time and my inability to understand. 
[. . .] Then something very funny: the painter Bernhard Kretzschmar, mid-50s, 
pale, slim, bit mad pale blue eyes. In the discussion he had spoken passionately 
against 'reportage' and against 'isms'. Coming up to me: he would like to draw 
me, I had sat there with such 'concentration', as if the embodiment of pure 
intellectuality. (Comedy! I play the part, others fall for it: because I now have 
an important name, I must also be important.) Vanitas! He came to us at about 
5 in the afternoon and began drawing, talking all the while about art, his 
unfortunate lot, his deceased wife, many pictures burnt, conflicts with col- 
leagues. At the same time a great deal of ethics and mysticism, almost, no, truly, 
spiritualism. The drawing turned out very well, except I have the stooped 
posture of great age - he said, no, that was concentration. He now began a 
second drawing [...]. Meanwhile a never-ending thunderstorm with ceaseless 
downpours began. Of necessity Kretzschmar remained for - a very scanty - 
supper; he had a couple of potatoes in his bag with the painting things, he gave 
those to us. He spent the night in his clothes on the sofa in the lobby - we did 
not get to bed until 1. Next morning breakfast together - despair at every slice 
of bread - then Kretzschmar went off to Hanusch in Freital and I to the teachers' 
congress. 

[...] 

5th August ; Monday morning 

For the first time in weeks free of the pressure of the unfinished 'German roots'; 
the first new part of the LTI since 8 June. There are so many things pulling at 
me, the conflict grows ever greater, the uncertainty of my position also. 

The Kulturbund evening on Wednesday 31 July turned out a great success for 
me. My formulation: 'Young people ask questions - young people reply in the 
House of the Kulturbund'. Certainly more than a 100 present. Impassioned 
debate. [. . .] Distrust of all contemporary solicitations and theories, of the 
governing party, of the Russians. ('There's a film running called Victory over 
Japan, in which it says: "now we have avenged 1905!" How is that compatible 
with humanitarianism, pacifism etc.??') I did not find it easy to be the diplomat. 


140 


The Lesser Evil 


But everything went very well and then when I asked, who should chair the 
next evening - on the theme 'culture' [. . .] the whole auditorium roared: 'You, 
you, you!' - E. was in the audience and confirmed the grand succes. The 
newspaper also wrote kindly about it. [. . .] 


6th August , Tuesday 

[...] 

The remainder of the week aside from the two congress days was taken up 
with two long, well-attended and hectic consulting days at the PHS. X applicants 
for teaching posts. [. . .] 

[..J 

Then [yesterday evening, 5 August] Fraujahrig, formerly Neumark's secretary 
with whom I discussed the case. The day before, Frau Neumark had been here, 
very desperate and in tears, they wanted to destroy her husband. [. . .] Gustl 
Kowacz, the prison barber, brought me Neumark's greetings. N., now in solitary 
confinement for two weeks, had been very calm, but said to warn me to be 
extremely cautious. 

At the congress I spoke to Donath who, if the occasion arose, would be my 
young man, head of department and Griitzner no. 2. My programme: professor 
at the TH, which I shall open as a technical university, honorary professor in 
Leipzig, Jan ousted, temporary replacement for 6 months, then myself to Leipzig. 
The department responsible for the PHS, which has just passed from Gladewitz 
to Schneller, affiliated to me ... As I set it forth to Donath, it all looked very 
nice, and I felt very good about it. Later, under the impression of the thwarted 
Dresden candidature, I thought it all trifling and built on sand. 

[...] 

Frau Jahrig related: her daughter, recommended by me to Sigrid Schwarz to 
study teaching, passed through a Russian language course of 3 or 6 months, 
and on the strength of that is now supposed to start teaching Russian in the 
autumn. It's sheer nonsense. Heinsch gave me an article from the anti-Russian 
and anti-Communist Tagesspiegel [newspaper in - West - Berlin]: mocking 
triumph at the failure of the schools reform in Berlin, written by a grammar- 
school teacher ... I preach repeatedly, we can only choose the least evil. But it 
is certain that matters will go wrong time after time if they are rushed or 
approached only from purely political perspectives. 

[...] 

8th August , Thursday morning 

Late yesterday afternoon Eva Schulze-Knabe, the widow of the executed painter, 
was here. She wanted to paint me (with the bandage) after the Plievier lecture, 
and I have bumped into her frequently since then. She brought a request 
from the SED to be present during a wireless report (intellectuals - election 
propaganda) today. Very likeable woman, in her early forties, tall, thin, blonde, 
[. . .] absolutely natural, warm-hearted, simple. Was sentenced to life, was in 


August 1946 


141 


Waldheim prison for five years, [. . .] also knows Gusti Wieghardt. [. . .] E. Schulze- 
Knabe has long scars on her right arm and the joint is stiff, which interferes 
with her work. Competently operated but then brutally massaged septicaemia 
in the prison hospital. In general, however, she said, it had not been bad for 
her in prison, at any rate incomparably better (and safer) than in a camp . . . 
work at a sewing machine . . . they had always had news about the situation, 
newspapers from the warders, reports from prisoners working outside. 

During the day yesterday read through what I've managed so far of the LTI, 
i.e. 10 out of 23 sections. Frequently tired and Eva Schulze from 6 p.m. until 
almost 9 (in between Kretzschmar-Neumark, whose stepfather is still inside. He 
talked of a rabbi [...], back from Theresienstadt in Berlin and there just sentenced 
to 8 years in prison, because he had assisted the Gestapo - the man was 
legitimately sentenced.) I can by no means finish the LTI quickly. Sometimes I 
believe I am completely incapable of real production. And my heart . . . 

[...] 


10th August , Saturday morning 

Eva Schulze-Knabe said recently: actually she found Dresden more beautiful 
now than before. 'If I think of all the tenement blocks and the kitsch buildings. 
Now by comparison: the beautiful pink of the ruins and then the blue sky 
above - when I saw it for the first time, I was quite enchanted. And I like it 
every time I see it again.' Yet she is a warm-hearted person, a victim of Fascism, 
widow of an executed man . . . 

Yesterday at the Evening Grammar School [. . .] After the lesson people stand 
around my desk for a long time, until it gets dark. I am surrounded by a cluster 
as far as the tram, I have to eat some of the fruit, which the Zabel orchard sisters 
[. . .] always have with them. They complain about some teachers [...], they 
pour out their worries to me in other respects, too. I really do believe, that the 
young people have taken me to their hearts. Why, only God knows. After all, I 
am unsystematic, assume too much knowledge, feel my way. I even tell them 
so, try to excuse the other teachers, try to ignore political difficulties etc. etc. 
They take it all in - yes, but with you it's interesting, with you we learn ... In 
short, just as at the Kulturbund discussion recently ... [. . .] 


11th August , Sunday morning 

Yesterday forenoon faculty meeting in the Inorganic Chemistry Institute [. . .] 
The chemist Simon is dean, Janentzky is section head. I was present for the first 
time. [. . .] It was not nice; on the one hand the uncertainty of my position, the 
awareness of being among enemies or at least among the distrustful [. . .] on the 
other the awareness of my perhaps-power and of my political duty. And behind 
all that the bitter awareness of my failing heart. I do indeed now live in a tragic 
state of suspense: great potential influence, satisfied vanity as to 'historic' 
achievement - both only perhaps, my heart is decisive and the political con- 
stellation. - Everything went well. Simon said courteously, we were entirely in 


142 


The Lesser Evil 


agreement, the motion just passed merely stated that the Simon-Janentzky 
management would remain for the time being, but a Russian order had come 
in, requiring a steering committee to be named. [. . .] 

Curious makeup of this faculty: Simon, a fat, jovial, diplomatic dean, about 
50. Janentzky. Straub. Beside Straub on the settee in a white suit: Kuhn. I shook 
hands with everyone. Only K. and I ignored one another. [. . .] After the meeting 
long conversation with Woldt. 92 Bond of friendship and party. I told him, that 
I had been proposed to head the ministerial department. That I wanted him to 
be dean. Already at the meeting I launched the question of the name Technical 
University'. I am obsessed by the passionate desire of myself delivering the Tech. 
Univ. address on the 1st of October. 


12th August, early Monday 

[..J 


Evening 

Dies ater. 93 Wildfiihr telephoned me at the PHS in Melanchthonstr.: the TH 
was plotting, Simon had told him, he [Simon] was going to be department 
head. We had to go to the State Administration immediately, he would pick me 
up in his car. [. . .] Saw Gute and Donath and was faced with the fait accompli 
that Simon had been appointed. No one had promised me anything, it was also 
incomprehensible, that I as an academic could have taken Fischer's Til make 
you dean' seriously. I said: Breach of promise ... I was not going to be anyone's 
clown, and as soon as the pensions law was passed [. . .] I would retire. Gute: he 
could understand that. Gute and Donath cool, Wildfiihr, since his call to Leipzig 
assured, indifferent. Finally: one would see to it, that I obtained the Leipzig 
chair. One would see to it ... I came home feeling very bitter. [. . .] 

Thus have I sunk back completely into nothingness. 


13th August, Tuesday afternoon 

In the morning the TH rector reported. The TH will be formally opened on 14 
Sept. Gute is Undersecretary, quasi minister of education, culture and church 
affairs, Donath assistant secretary, between the two of them - not yet officially 
appointed, Simon. I said to Woldt: they think they have him in a pincers; he 
will bend the pincers. He will outmanoeuvre them. I said: everything is going 
the same way as 1919, they are thwarted by the high schools, by their spirit 
(the 3rd pillar of reaction). - The TH will train only technical-college teachers 
and teachers of the natural sciences. That means my chair is pointless. And I 
think it out of the question, that I shall receive a call from Leipzig. - All my 
plans and hopes shattered in a single day. I see from today's newspaper, that I 
am not on the list of candidates for the city council. 


August 1946 


143 


14th August , Wednesday morning 

Woldt is a pale, slight, very old and austere-looking little man, 4 years my senior, 
irregular career, from the trades union movement, SPD veteran, originally 
appointed to the government, here he has a professorship in Gehrig's field. We 
got to know each other better only very recently, before yesterday's session I 
told him with bitterness about my defeat, he then invited me to his out-of-the- 
way room. (In Mommsenstr., in the former student hostel [...].) W. preached 
to me in cordial and paternal fashion: steer clear of all day-to-day politics. 
People like Schneller and the rest [. . .] 'red today, dead tomorrow', and none of 
it has any lasting value. Work in the field, of which one is master, write one's 
books in that field - only that has lasting value. He himself had started as a 
junior technician, then he had drawn the attention of Kautsky, 94 who had 
introduced him to all the important people in the [SPD] party. [. . .] He had 
spent 12 years as a very autonomous assistant secretary under the free and 
fine Democrat Becker 95 in the Prussian Ministry of Culture and Education. He 
appeared to be proudest of this period. 

Very depressed all day yesterday. Teaching at the Evening Grammar School 
later was almost refreshing. No matter how much of my time it takes up - I 
again and again hesitate to finally resign from it. But perhaps because of the 
money, or because I am afraid of concentrated proper work? Keeping oneself 
busy is so much easier than work. 

[...] 


16th August , Friday morning 

[...] 

At last a letter from Gusti Wieghardt - one letter appears to have gone missing 
or is still en route. Very cordial, but she cannot come, she wants to visit her 
very sick sister, Maria Strindberg, 96 in Stockholm, she has to see to her son 
Karl, 97 who is without a post [...]. 


18th August , Sunday forenoon 

Yesterday or rather today I got to bed at 2: Humanism and Kulturbund article 
for the Tagliche Rundschau newspaper finished. In the morning and into the 
afternoon, I was with Kneschke in Schillerstr. (Kulturbund) where we dealt with 
quite a lot. [. . .] As I was on my way out I bumped into a fat, grey-haired lady - 
Eva Biittner, 98 cf of the diary of the time of trouble, the death by cancer of her 
husband, her feigned suicide, which we believed. Very tumultuous greeting, 
soon the familiar 'Du'. She is in charge of culture in Kamenz district, came to 
ask me for 2 lectures, in Kamenz and Grossrohrsdorf. Immediately there was 
also contact with Piskowitz (Agnes), promise of help with potatoes. Then we 
drove up here in her tiny car. Greeting with Eva. Everything full of enthusiasm 
and emotion and promises and shared politics - she, too, is for a radical course 
in the universities and is taken aback by Gute's giving way. [. . .] 


144 


The Lesser Evil 


21st August, minuit Wednesday 

I worked all day on the 'Literature and Politics' lecture, which I then gave for 
the Intellectuals' Evening of the SED in the Luisenhof. Car with nice comrades 
picked me up, E. came with me. The elegant restaurant by the cable railway 
with the wonderful view of the Elbe and the city. The sun was just setting and 
the destruction was not particularly noticeable. [. . .] The lecture, swiftly put 
together from the most modest materials, was good. 

But unfortunately a whole day and probably several days to come soured by a 
long letter from Georg. I should immediately refrain from all public appearances, 
restrict myself to the TH chair, rest a great deal, walk and climb stairs very little 
or I was a goner. So says Georg, the specialist in angina. Furthermore no 
Kulturbund and no appearances by a Semite were of any use. Germany could 
only be saved by a statesman, otherwise it would be completely destroyed in 
the '3rd Punic War'. 99 What was the point of G. writing me that? I already have 
one foot in the grave anyway. 


22nd August ; Thursday morning 

[...] 

In recent days I was so overwhelmed with work, that I am hardly able to 
reconstruct them. 

The Sunday with the anticipated visit by Frau Jahrig was very boring. After 
Frau Neumark was also here on Monday, I have a very gloomy view of the N. 
affair. Russian viewpoint: the law 'Crimes against humanity' also applies to him, 
who acted under orders, he should have refused to carry out inhuman orders. 
In Neumark's case: on Gestapo orders he had drawn up lists of 'isolated priv- 
ileged' Jews to be deported. (I.e. of Jews protected by Aryan marriages, but 
recently widowed or living separately, or who enjoyed protection because of 
Aryan children under 16 years of age and living in the family home, and now 
the children were over 16 or no longer at home.) Without Neumark's help 
the Gestapo might have overlooked this or that person. Ergo he was a guilty 
accomplice. In Berlin a number of Jews had already 'disappeared' months ago 
because of similar accusations. Among them admittedly 'bloodhounds ' , i.e. Jews 
who had to cordon off streets during raids. [. . .] 


28th August , Wednesday afternoon 

[...] 

The Sunday (25 Aug.) was interesting. Although I once again felt ashamed at 
the narrowness of my own field, that I understand nothing at all of art and 
music. Very solemn inauguration of the First General German Art Exhibition. 100 
5th Symphony by Shostakovich. Again and again I sensed great beauty - but to 
follow the whole thing, to grasp its coherence? Impossible! Dejected boredom, 
thoughts wandering. Afterwards many speeches. [. . .] Going round later was no 
pleasure. A lot of Expressionism and Cubism of the 20s. I get nothing from it. 


September 1946 


145 


[. . •] Then bumped into Eva Biittner and again warmest greeting. At the last 
moment I learned of a Russian invitation for the VIPs and got hold of a second 
card for E. - Schloss Wachwitz, a princely villa built in 1938 for a Prince Heinrich. 
The 18 to Calberlastr., then up the hill on foot. My poor heart, constant 
memento. Together with a number of painters - while big guzzling govern- 
ment cars rolled past. Finally a Russian car stopped for us. The guests stood 
on the terrace behind the house for a long time and had a splendid view of 
the Elbe and the city and the chain of hills beyond [...]. Finally, it was 
probably already 9, called in to dinner. Large table in a main room, small 
tables in an impressive side room. We sat in the sideroom with a couple of 
painters; which was no bad thing. Great elegance. The table covered with 
hors d'oeuvres - caviar, small fishes, eggs, sausage, tomatoes, plenty of butter, 
unlimited white bread. A paradise. (Povera Germania. 101 ) A Russian maitre 
d'hotel or Armenian headwaiter, fat, in uniform, a slim Russian Armenian 
lady, black dress, oldish, dignified, expensive bracelets, demonic, theatrical; 
German waiters, no wine, no beer - only large quantities of schnapps: vodka 
bottles, liqueur bottles. Heidebroek had warned me: strict custom to empty a 
full glass at each toast. One had to secretly pour some of it into a vase under 
the table . . . The toasts, Russian and German, resounded incomprehensibly 
from the next room, at our table we were entirely German [...]. After the meal, 
informal socialising. I made contact with various people. [. . .] I would say: the 
external mechanism of my existence was lubricated a little again . . . After 12 
Gute made sure, that a car took us home. Naturally I slept badly and my heart 
was again overtaxed. 

Since yesterday I have a telephone. 


1st September, Sunday evening 

Trip to Kamenz, 3 p.m. Saturday-6 p.m. Sunday. 

Very exhausted at the moment and that casts a shadow over everything. In 
fact this trip was very nice and very successful - only at the very end there were 
two annoyances, whose effects continue to be felt. 


2nd September, Monday 

The lecture itself, in the hall of the Lessing School, about one third full, 120 
people I was told - Kamenz has 13,000 inhabitants and there were political 
meetings at the same time. Posters had been put up for me as for a circus: 
'Meeting. Subject: The Kulturbund and the Local Elections. Speaker Herr Pro- 
fessor Dr Klemperer of Dresden TH and the University of Leipzig, Director of 
the People's High Schools (plural! and Leipzig as well!) Followed by Discussion! 
Organisers Hermann Grafe, chairman of the Kamenz Group, District Admin- 
istrator, Eva Biittner, Department of Culture.' I spoke about culture and human- 
ism. -[...] Discussion immediately turned not to me but to the local election 
campaign. A youthful lady accused the 'only true church', the SED, of unfair 


146 


The Lesser Evil 


personal attacks, Eva Buttner replied sharply, and so it went back and forth for 
a while. A gentleman at the very rear stood up: the speaker knew him and 
would confirm his humaneness, he simply wanted to plead for fairness all 
round. I asked who he was, I could not make out his face - Schliiter, tea 
manufacturer, now settled here. I expressed my warm gratitude to him, spoke 
appeasingly to the embittered lady, poured oil on the waves. The evening ended 
well. The lady and Schliiter came up to me and were very friendly. She a student 
of Romance languages, wife of a pastor [...]. Earlier at Eva Biittner's. An old, 
chaotically built house near the market; both Kulturbund office and E.B.'s 
private apartment. Beautiful rooms with many art objects, pieces of furniture, 
paintings. Most inherited [...]. Very great warmth, obligingness, flattery, even 
more so after the success of the evening: I should be in charge of the Saxon KB, 
should be in the Saxon parliament etc. etc. . . . What is left of all of that today, 
after the election defeat, was left of it yesterday, when I asked for help for Agnes 
against the mayor of Piskowitz? Oh politics! -[...] Not back until 2. The market 
floodlit, big red banners everywhere, instead of the swastika a white 1 (list 1, 
SED!) in the middle. The police station open. They had the front-door key for 
our hotel, and a policeman - a comrade - took us across to the hotel and opened 
up for us. The next morning our first pleasure was the red banner without, 
without a swastika. A brass band began to play in front of the town hall, it 
was followed by agreeable choral singing, the election began solemnly. - We 
breakfasted with Eva B., she then had us driven to Piskowitz. We found our 
Agnes very wretchedly accommodated in the wooden huts of the former girls' 
land-labour camp. But the food was as abundant as in 45 during our flight, 
rabbit and cakes - we were also able to hoard all kinds of foodstuffs, even butter. 
Jurik and Marka and Agnes herself had changed little. Their farmstead was shot 
to pieces and is not one of those, which is being rebuilt. She complained that 
she was a poor widow, Hanski, the new mayor, didn't help her, only people 
with connections or who could grease hands counted - apart from rebuilding 
the house there is also a cow and a cart at issue. Krahl, the former mayor, who 
as a pg spent 13 weeks in a Russian camp, is back on his farm, was well-disposed 
to her, but unable to help. I talked to Krahl, I called on the mayor. His attitude 
was quite negative. I turned bloody rude, threatened to call District Admin- 
istrator and government down on him, it was his duty to see first of all to those 
who had helped anti-Fascists. - Afterwards Eva B., with a laugh at once irritated 
and pitying, told me that I did not have a clue about local politics, the mayor, 
no doubt elected and confirmed on the ticket of the non-partisan Association 
for Farmers' Mutual Aid, 102 was master of the situation, the District Admin- 
istrator would not lift a finger against him, it was natural that the mayor would 
first of all help his supporters . . . The business rankles very greatly in me and is 
a personal defeat. - Agnes also related very matter-of-factly and without making 
a fuss of it - she did not mention the word 'rape' - [that the women] had to 
sleep with the first Russians to arrive, she too -'what could one do, he put down 
his rifle, the children were there, I had to go outside with him, the only good 
thing is that nothing came of it!' - later, however, the Russians had been very 
friendly and helpful. [. . .] 


September 1946 


147 


At 5 p.m. we were back in Dresden. 

[...] 


2nd September , Monday evening 

Today has been overshadowed by the election result, which only leaked out 
very late and slowly. 103 (Yesterday evening and this morning I waited in vain at 
the wireless), I also asked and puzzled over it down at the newspaper kiosk at 
8, there was nothing more than a printed note from Freital. That, of course, is 
red, 15,000 votes out 25,000 for the SED, but there was already talk of results 
in Dresden which were the opposite. After that I heard at the broadcasting 
building, that overall in Saxony the SED had barely managed 50%, therefore is 
everywhere dependent on coalitions with the bloc parties. That means my 
Leipzig plans will come to nothing. Now the SED will be even more timid and 
do nothing, absolutely nothing about the arrogance of the academy. 

[...] 

A great deal of correspondence is piling up, which I shall have to answer at 
some point. Today there arrived letters from: Frau Vossler [...]. He, Vossler, has 
already resigned from the rectorship again - too much trouble. 

[...] 

From Frau Dember, whom Wunderwald wrote that we are here again. She is 
living happily in New York, has 3 grandsons, two by Emita, 1 by her son. 

A touching little packet from Frau Sttihler in Munich. 


6th September , Friday 

[...] 

At the TH session on Tue. 3 Aug. I moved that Vossler's 'honorary doctorate 
be revived'. I dictated an appropriate letter of proposal for Simon and Janentzky 
to Mey over the telephone. - 1 discussed my intention of standing for the Saxon 
parliament with Woldt. [. . .] 

[. . .] What is the point of it all? My life is draining away . . . And even these 
notes here - who will make use of them? Eva says, she is not capable of it. [. . .] 
Most interesting recent letters: from Berthold Meyerhof (in most straitened 
circumstances in New York; brewery employee, his wife works at home as a 
seamstress. Hans Meyerhof lives in Palermo); from Doris Machol, daughter of 
Heinz (t in a concentration camp) and his first wife, the Austrian Communist, 104 
who visited us in Holbeinstr. in the 20s. There will no doubt be more to be said 
about that. I answered the girl's letter at length, since it sounds very likeable. 
Painting student, returning from French emigration, resident in Berlin, mother 
t January 46 in Nice. D. asks about her grandmother Hedwig, whose picture 
had 'impressed' her; she had heard vague things about us from her mother; 
now she asks whether the author of 'Plievier-Barbusse' is the Klemperer who is 
one of her relatives. The letter sounds honestly interested. Or is it merely looking 
for a contact? I am so mistrustful. But I replied very warmly. 

[...] 


148 


The Lesser Evil 


7th September , Saturday morning 

Two young Party officials, with some such post as youth leader, complained to 
Eva Blank and myself at a long meeting (in Melanchthonstr.), that our dis- 
cussions with the youth organisation had been too bourgeois, too historical, 
too unpolitical, too unsocialist. We tried to convince them, how unpolitical any 
other approach would be in the Kulturbund. We advised them: send us people 
from your workers' and elementary school circles. There was talk of 'young 
people' joining the LDP en masse, which acts as if it is the inheritor of and has 
the monopoly on the German Classical tradition. I talked about my experiences 
at the Evening Grammar School. One person has been through the Hitler 
schools, another comes back from the war and now feels himself disregarded 
and devalued. 


10th September , Tuesday afternoon 


Evening, 11 p.m. 

[. . .] On Mon. morning I took part in a section meeting for the first time in 10 
years. Janentzky chaired, present were the completely bent, apathetically quiet 
Hassert, old Woldt, the dwarf Kuhn and Straub, who as dean of the coming 
Education Faculty, dominated. Janentzky depressed - checkmated like the whole 
Cultural Sciences Section. Since only vocational-school teachers are to be taught 
here, we, the pure humanities men, are unnecessary. [. . .] I requested very 
forcefully, that my motion for the renewal of Vossler's honorary doctorate be 
speedily approved by the Senate. No one could very well oppose me. Woldt to 
me after the meeting: why was I pursuing Kuhn; his fall would harm me and it 
did seem a case of a personal feud with a harmless man! I responded simply: 
'and you, a fellow party member, say that to me!' . . . Besides Kuhn will keep his 
post just like von Jan. 

Yesterday the section 'If two people do the same thing' finally completed, no 
not until today. 


12th September , Thursday afternoon 

Yesterday devoted essentially to preparation of the evening lecture to the Free 
Youth: 'Youth and Scholarship'. Half of it was the talk National Socialism 
and Scholarship, half really new. Appeal to youth: You have the opportunity 
presented by new conditions, the adventure of creating something new! Cau- 
tiously against sport. [. . .] A success nevertheless [although] there were far too 
few people in the large hall, perhaps a 100. But they really were young people, 
and I spoke to them as a fatherly teacher. [. . .] 


15th September ; Sunday 

[...] 


September 1946 


149 


After minuit 105 

I lost the whole afternoon sitting for an oil painting by the crumpled Arthur 
Rudolph; 106 the painting was less than half finished, but it will be good. He 
himself talks very disparagingly about all his colleagues; his fat wife, who feeds 
him, makes a very good-natured and robust impression and speaks of him with 
the most tender respect. During the war she was a waitress, she has now leased 
land and grows vegetables. Lewinsky was there at the same time, unchanged. I 
had to translate a registry office attestation into French for him, which proves 
that his son, held in France as a prisoner of war, is of Jewish descent. This task, 
with its specialist terms has kept me busy just now from about 10 p.m. until 
almost midnight. Awful, my linguistic ignorance. 

[..J 


27th September, Friday 

[...] 

The Boheme evening as conclusion of the Technical High School festival was 
very fine. Mimi rather too large and robustly healthy in appearance. Astonishing 
what can be done with the small stage. The action spills down the side stairs 
into the auditorium itself. Melancholy memories: I saw La Boheme in 1902 and 
1903 in Geneva and Paris. Gehrig sat behind me, old, shaky, still the same old 
'sly dog' - Christmas Eve in French was not called reveillon, he was very sure 
of that - what he did not know, is that his chair is threatened. What I did not 
know, is that mine is threatened also. (Donath yesterday: the three chairs: 
Janentzky, Gehrig, yours are superfluous, you have not been incorporated in 
the Education Faculty, are just being carried by the Russians . . . But you have 
been taken care of, we have secured your position, you will get your money, 
even if you do nothing at all . . . etc. etc.) . . . 

On the morning of this High School festival, Kretzschmar-Neumark, whom I 
had telephoned the evening before, called. N. had passed a message on to me 
through barber Gustl: he asked for bread and a winter coat, he was so hungry 
and cold. He had now received the indictment - crime against humanity, by 
drawing up a deportation list - he believes conviction is certain . . . Nothing 
more is known; help impossible. - Altogether similar the case of Schmidt, our 
neighbour, who was a tax inspector in the Ukraine. He has been inside for a 
month. The family in deep distress. Traute S., who is about to take her school- 
leaving certificate, is painting lampshades. Gunther S. sees his 3rd semester as 
a medical student in Jena at risk, because the most recent questionnaire includes 
the question: Ts any member of your family in prison?' Yesterday Gunther came 
to see me before leaving for Jena. I could not advise him to answer the question 
in the negative. 

[...] 


150 


The Lesser Evil 


On Sunday 22, the Day of Commemoration for the Victims of Fascism I had been 
due to speak about 'Heroism' in Kamenz. We were both invited, were looking 
forward to it, were looking forward to prospects of potatoes. At the last moment 
Eva Buttner telephoned to cancel, the meeting had fallen through. - Instead we 
took part in commemorations here. [. . .] Then in the evening, it was a great 
rush and a bravura feat for us, we got back from the Tonhalle at 6, ate quickly and 
departed again - big celebration in the Constantia, a huge suburban ballroom in 
Cotta [...]. A poor concert, a wildly shouted, very revolutionary speech by 
Gladewitz - the people of the Spanish International Brigades, the people from 
the concentration camps should determine the politics of Germany - conclusion 
[. . .] To the dead the laurels etc. 107 After that a one-act play by Bert Brecht, with 
whose work I had thus far been unfamiliar: Senora Carrar's Rifles. 108 [. . .] The 
woman has lost her husband through politics. She does not want to give up her 
two sons, nor her husband's weapons, which are still in the house. Outside 
there is the battle against Franco's troops, who are breaking through. Neither 
the woman's brother, nor the one son who is present are able to persuade her. 
[. . .] Then, despite his non-involvement one of the sons is shot. And now the 
mother not only hands over the rifles, but arms herself and goes to the front as 
well . . . Was it my tiredness? I found the play sluggish and monotonous, nodded 
off a couple of times and on waking did not feel that I had missed anything. 
[...] 

Today, it is now almost 8 p.m., I have devoted all my free time to the diary - 
one should never ask, what the point of it is. In the morning in a conversation 
with E. resolved on a stubborn course and a provisional resignation - is there a 
'later' for me? [. . .] 

The Soviet News Agency asked me by telephone for a statement on Stalin's 
Peace Declaration. I said the usual approving words. 

[...] 

There are letters to be answered from: Georg, Martha, Walter Jelski, 109 Doris 
Machol, Anny Klemperer, Hilde Jonson, Berthold Meyerhof, Schaps, Gusti, 
Helene Ahrens 110 (turned up in Quakenbriick). In addition letter to Vossler. That 
makes a dozen. And Stuhlers, Munich, as nr 13. 


29th September ; Sunday evening 

[...] 

After one and half days of despair and inability to progress I finally got into 
my stride again with the LTI article 'Europa', which I have already twice 
interrupted. It is now called 'Cafe Europe', and I immediately want to follow it 
with the Jewish theme as a whole. 

[...] 


1st October , Tuesday night 

Two days of meetings. Yesterday morning to Party headquarters in considerable 
suspense. Invited by telephone, taken there by car. Disappointment on arriving. 


October 1946 


151 


Meeting of the culture section, chaired, however, by Koenen 111 and Buchwitz, 
whom I saw for the first time, and with the participation of prominent Party 
figures. Koenen, seen only from afar, tall, thin, dark full beard, somewhat 
fanatical schoolmaster's face; Buchwitz grey-haired, likeable. Everyone, espe- 
cially Comrade Undersecretary Gute (promoted a few days ago) spoke about the 
necessity of carrying on cultural propaganda, of winning the intelligentsia for 
the Party and of bringing the workers to the intelligentsia. I learned immediately, 
however, that I was not on the Party list [i.e. for the election to the parliament 
of Saxony]. Afterwards I approached Buchwitz and requested not to be separated 
from the Party. He said, he was pleased at my wish, I was valued, and shook my 
hand; he would take a look at the list. However, I remained stuck on the 
Kulturbund list, and the SED list does not have a single intellectual in the first 
50 places, some technical professor from Freiberg excepted [. . .] Becher and Gysi 
and Gute turned up for [the meeting], in addition, as chairman, Menke-Gluckert, 
who has been isolated, behind whom there is now only the LDP, and against 
whom there is involvement in some Nazi publication or other. [A decision was 
made in favour of a separate Kulturbund list, the SED having outvoted the 
other parties. A second meeting was agreed for the afternoon.] This morning at 
the TH nothing particularly new; Kuhn, who was not invited to the gala dinner 
and was thought to be finished, was again sitting with the professors comme si de 
rien n'etait. [. . .] Finally a list was ready. 1. Prof. Menz, independent, journalism, 
Leipzig. 2. myself. A dozen further names - I am not yet convinced that this 
will be the end of the matter. 


2nd October , midday Wednesday 

Yesterday evening Gustl, the prison barber, was here for a while - Neumark 
needs his spectacles repaired and food. [. . .] 

Today Mannhart, Hamburg, sent back my article 'What do we know about 
France?' It was too negative and 'too journalistic' for the publishing house's 
scholarly referees. I shall give the messieurs the necessary reply. [. . .] 


3rd October, Thursday evening 

Yesterday afternoon long People's High School session: Dolitzsch, advisory 
board, Wolfgang Schumann. Old stories. The final resignation was not easy for 
me. Schumann will probably be my successor. 

This morning excitement on the telephone with Kneschke, at home with Eva 
Blank, who was rushing from one place to the next. After Menz was moved 
down the list for some reason, my non-Party technician colleague, Reingruber, 
who has already been elected to the city council as an independent, but is 'close' 
to the SED, has been placed at the top of the Kulturbund list. I felt that was a 
demotion and threatened to resign. But of course myself took the threat only a 
quarter seriously and still felt flattered by my place second from the top ... I 
think it almost impossible for the Kulturbund to really get two candidates 


152 


The Lesser Evil 


through (for which it needs 50-60,000 votes!). Nevertheless the next 3 weeks 
will flatter my vanity. In the afternoon to Arthur Rudolph in Krenkelstr. He had 
turned his apartment into an art exhibition; masses of pictures everywhere, also 
stacks of water colours and drawings. Every kind of motif: Portraits, landscapes, 
compositions [. . .] every style, Symbolism, Expressionism, Naturalism. I under- 
stand nothing, let E. do the talking. [. . .] I liked a very large not yet completely 
finished still life: Blue Jug with Sunflowers. Its colours magnificent beside the 
inconspicuous model. It is supposed to cost 6,000M. Then a very bright water 
colour: Sea and Sky in Sweden. Perhaps I shall give it to E. as a present (400- 
600M). I myself shall never understand why one puts up pictures. - Two 
drawings of me, done at the beginning of the 20s. Soft, smooth, chubby, smiling 
good-humouredly, black hair! [. . .] 


7th October, Monday forenoon 

On Friday 4 Oct. there was a long faculty meeting at the TH [. . .] The Cultural 
Sciences Section (or 'Group') under Janentzky is suspended in mid-air without 
any purpose whatsoever. [. . .] officially [. . .] we are not on the timetable and 
therefore non-existent . . . Kuhn was present. Likewise Simon, who has been 
appointed an undersecretary, but remains professor. He to me: 'Will you author- 
ise me, to say to Gute and Donath, that you would be willing to see Kuhn 
employed as a librarian or at an academy?' I: T have requested that a 100x. K. 
is neither a Nazi nor a bad man - only he must not be allowed to instruct 
teachers.' [. . .] The Saturday turns out to be the worst black day for me since 
the beginning of the new age. I already had a foreboding of calamity, when E. 
Blank telephoned me on Friday, Comrade Koenen wanted to speak to me. Then 
on Saturday morning I heard from Kneschke, the list had been altered again, I 
would get 'an equivalent'. I was with Koenen at 1.30 [. . .]. Very friendly recep- 
tion, cigar, man-of-the-world - yet altogether negative. [. . .] It had been neces- 
sary to take the Leipzig people into consideration, hence give precisely my place 
to someone else, because after all I was a fellow party member, and the interests 
of the Party required ... I: I felt offended by the Kulturbund, and would resign 
my chairmanship. K: he could not understand that, it was a question of a very 
natural acceptance of a Party instruction, it was nothing to do with the KB. 
Apart from that, I was to be professor in Leipzig and probably also dean - Fischer 
had told him, Koenen, so 'only the day before yesterday and with the greatest 
certainty'. I (with some bitterness), that was presumably intended to sugar the 
pill, but it had been promised me too often and for too long, for me still to 
believe in it, I thought very highly of Comrade Vice-President Fischer, who 
was a very well-meaning gentleman, but he did not quite understand how 
universities worked. We went on talking back and forth in friendly fashion, it 
did not lead anywhere. Koenen graciously: I must keep on giving talks, the 
workers enjoyed listening to me. [. . .] All day Saturday I suffered increasingly 
from serious heart problems. [. . .] Then at about 2 the Rudolphs appeared, the 
painting began [...]. The afternoon was quite nice, but nevertheless time- 
consuming and tiring. The portrait, head almost finished, will be very good. 


October 1946 


153 


Since R. presented me with a water colour (marine view) and the two drawings 
of me (from the 20s), I felt bound to buy something from him: another water 
colour (Saxon Switzerland) for 300M. No doubt it had to be (and the Tagliche 
Rundschau recently sent me 250 for the LTI article). 

[...] 


9th October, Wednesday evening 

In Naples in 1914-15 I often heard: each person says of his giornale 'e pagato', 112 
and yet the press has an effect. Thus I tell myself: I know how these ovations 
happen, how little sincerity there is behind them, how brief the fame they 
provide. And yet the comically conventional business of this 65th birthday did 
me a great deal of good. - Baskets of flowers, official congratulations in the 
shape of speeches, printed addresses from the State Administration, signed by 
Gute, from the SED, signed by Grotewohl, Buchwitz, Koenen, from the Schools 
and Culture Department and from the People's High School, signed by Dol- 
itzsch; little article and photo in the Sachsische Zeitung newspaper. I am 'the 
great scholar', the 'authoritative Romance scholar and teacher famous beyond 
the borders of Germany' (State Administration), the fighter for . . . etc. etc. It 
goes down smoothly yet tastes bitter-sweet after the failures with respect to the 
Saxon Parliament and Leipzig and with the angina death sentence in my 
pocket. - The congratulations of the SMA, conveyed by First Lieutenant Kochi- 
kov (or something like it), were very nice. He was already here yesterday evening 
with his Major Auslander - while we were in the Academy. He came again this 
morning. Pale, blond, very tubercular looking man, is said to be a professor of 
music. Broken but educated German. I talked to him about the Nazism which 
persisted among young people. He: Here in Germany old age appeared to be 
more progressive than youth. I: there were very good reasons for that. At the 
beginning of the conversation he had conveyed the congratulations of the 
SMA. At the end I solemnly said to him: I stand with all my heart and with 
gratitude by Soviet Russia. - Then he had his chauffeur carry in: 3 bottles of 
spirit, a 2\ lb lump of beef, a month's ration - (povera Germania!), a large bag 
of sugar, 2 lbs of butter and something like 10 lbs of white flour. - That is the 
most significant yield of the day, and there were also 240 cigarettes in the Soviet 
gift. - And visits and telephone calls all day long. Eva Blank with magnificent, 
most sumptuous roses from the Kulturbund. She organised the visit and the 
presents from the Russians. She also brought the agenda for tomorrow: the 
greeting by the Russian State Choir. [. . .] 


14th October, Monday forenoon 

Terribly worn out, terrible chaos with a constantly changing programme - there 
will be no improvement before the 20th (the election). Standing out from the 
chaos: the two Russian addresses, foolishly enough accompanied by pal- 
pitations, the Russian choir and - above all - brother and sister Doris and Ernst 


154 


The Lesser Evil 


Machol, a human find and an addition to the family. I must try to turn headings 
into entries. 


15th October , Tuesday 

[...] 

At 2 in the afternoon in the Tonhalle a concert by the Kreuzchor [choir] under 
Prof. Mauersberger (looks like a schoolmaster), I did not quite understand the 
enthusiasm of the audience. Droll, when during the applause, at a nod from 
the professor, two little fellows stepped forward martially and bowed like syn- 
chronised automatons. After that the addresses with interpreters. The audience 
was on its feet, the film camera whirred, the light was blinding. First Gute, who 
presented a picture, Dresden in days gone by, then Weidauer, who read a long 
ms, then myself with palpitating heart [...]. In the evening in the Nordhalle 
the [Russian] choir. Wonderful. Tremendously theatrical. At times literally scenes 
of dispute, real drama. Then again the choir treated like an instrument. The 
rasping of the basses. The grotesquely rounded mouth, the mask-like face of the 
deepest bass. 120 singers. Two rows of women, 2 rows of men. A kind of uniform. 
The women in long white gowns with identical embroidery strips in tomato- 
red and gold. The men in Russian blouses with corresponding stripes and edging 
at the neck ... We sat in the places of honour of the notables, and everyone 
important, Friedrichs the president included, shook my hand. But afterwards 
great and small drove home in their cars - and we walked to the tram and I was 
deflated. [. . .] 


16th October , Wednesday 

[. . .] From Saturday evening until Monday morning the 14th - they telephoned 
at 11 a.m., I brought them up here from the no. 22 tram stop at midnight - we 
were occupied in an exhausting but most delightful way (see below) with 
brother and sister Ernst and Doris Machol. On Monday evening, in Freital, I 
spoke after Becher. (Lecture on Personality with Montesquieu at the centre.) 
That day E. was already ill in bed. She feels better today, but far from recovered. 
In Freital audience of more than 200. Despite Becher and despite philosophical 
difficulty of my thing very loud applause. - On the afternoon of Tue. 15 Becher 
read exactly the same piece about idealism, Kulturbund etc. in the wonderful 
huge Chemistry lecture theatre of the TH. His key sentence: ‘We do not write 
anyone off.' Mushy conciliatoriness towards the West, towards the pg's, towards 
Gerhart Hauptmann, towards everyone. Tepidness as principle. I got more from 
private conversation with him - in the car (he picked me up 2x), while eating 
potato salad with him afterwards - than from the piece [...]. I had to open the 
meeting in the |TH] amphitheatre, because - Tobler, together with Kuhn has 
been abruptly dismissed. In some palace or other, Gute told me brusquely, a 
letter had been found in which he prostitutes himself to the NSDAP. Tobler 
was in fact present and I had a friendly conversation with him about his 


October 1946 


155 


prospects in Munich, and I recommended him to Vossler . . . After Heidebroek's 
greeting as host, my 10 words and Becher's lecture [...]. After we had got the 
lecture behind us - it was wretchedly cold - I loitered in the corridor with 
Becher. Simon, now department head in the ministry, came up to us, we should 
discuss things in his room and warm ourselves. A wonderful warm office and 
living room [. . .] a schnapps, a cigar. It was very interesting for me. In 2 respects, 
a) Becher. our list should have been: Gadamer, Litt, Ramin. 113 The Kulturbund 
must not be politically radical. He, Becher, had joined the Party, when it had 
great personalities, Liebknecht, Luxemburg etc., he was staying in it 'despite 
Koenen'. [. . .] I told Simon [. . .] how matters stand in the Jan affair. He is 
cautious and appears to be a little afraid of me. He is tremendously nice and is 
in many respects essentially closer to me than 'my' party. But he and Becher 
always have an eye to the West. 'Gadamer has threatened to go to Heidelberg!' 
says Becher. Awkward situation for me, and I shall end up falling between all 
stools. 

[...] 

Doris and Ernst Machol 26 and 25 years of age. The boy grew up with his 
father. [. . .] Then to his mother. Doris with her. Into exile at 13 years of age. 
Spain. Doris a good friend of Richard Gladewitz [...]. Spoke to him on the 
telephone . . . France. Knowledge of French, Spanish, English. The boy in a hotel 
school, then sometimes a page, sometimes a cook, sometimes what do I know. 
In French-German camps and prisons. Now she had just been licensed by the 
ADN News Agency. In this position she attended the whole of the Nurnberg 
trial. (Just now on the wireless: sentences carried out at 2 a.m. this morning; 
Goering committed suicide beforehand - cyanide.) Doris says: Goering's defence 
of himself had been more than a match for the court, he had completely 
crushed Jackson, the American prosecutor. An aura of independence, ability, 
adventurousness around both Machols. Certainly also idealism. Especially 
around Doris. Curious figure. Small lively indefinable half-dark eyes, huge fuzzy 
head of hair. She lives with 'Mackie' - Max - Kahane, 114 35, chief editor of the 
same agency, fought in Spain and France, separated but not divorced from his 
wife who has disappeared to Palestine, child of petty bourgeois Jewish parents 
from Kiev. - Ernst M. Jewish-looking, somewhat thick lips and hair, spectacles, 
both brother and sister have very protruding upper teeth. I thought I could 
recognise a picture of the late mother taken in Nice at the beginning of this 
year. She was in fact of North German peasant origin, but, as Doris said, not 
quite as Nordic as was claimed. The pretty story about the 'rabbit'. Doris related: 
Once in the camp she had a fit of weeping, and an otherwise brutal SS doctor 
had given her medicine and spoken words of encouragement: 'You are a white 
rabbit with black patches, your children will only have little black spots, and 
your grandchildren's fur will be completely white!' 

[...] 


156 


The Lesser Evil 


23rd October , Wednesday morning 

On Monday 21 there was a meeting of faculty [. . .] at which the rector reported. 
[. . .] Outcome: there is absolutely no place for me in the present Education 
Faculty. The Russians are turning the TH more or less into a school (not high 
school) as with the People's High School. 


24th October ; Thursday evening 

Light cut off for hours at a time (today from 5.30-9.45 p.m.), plus frost and lack 
of heating are the latest misfortune. 

Slow progress on the 'Juda' chapter. 

[. . .] Frau Neumark and Kretzschmar called on me in utter despair: N. has 
been transferred to a camp, no one knows why and where. I am supposed to 
help find out, have no possibility of doing so and am now held to be cowardly 
and disloyal. 

My colleague Frieser, successor of photography-Luther at the TH, music- 
making friend of Grube - forever owing us a visit, otherwise courteous - has been 
shipped without warning - the order came in the morning, departure took place 
at 5 p.m. - to Russia for 5 years with his family and all his household effects. 115 

No progress in the Leipzig affair. Yesterday to see Donath. Now Gute-Donath 
think the Berlin Central Administration, Rompe above all, must press Leipzig, 
because Leipzig's independence must not be infringed upon. Not even after our 
election victory on Sunday. (Of 120 seats: 59 SED, 2 Farmers' Aid, 1 Kulturbund, 
Reingruber = 62 SED seats.) 


27th October ; Sunday morning 

What happened on Thurs. Fri. and Saturday morning? I do not know. A sign 
that I have at last plunged into the LTI once again. Naturally there is no shortage 
of errands, correspondence, impediments of every kind - but none of it sticks 
in my mind. I am breaking the big chapter 'Juda' into smaller parts. [. . .] 
Yesterday afternoon tea reception as prelude to the Artists' Congress. 

Evening 

The reception yesterday, of the kind I am by now familiar with. In the Nordhalle 
long tables, two little pieces of cake at each place, tea is served with them, this 
time even real and sweetened tea. A band plays. Then one wanders around, 
shows one's face, chats, talks business. [. . .] 

Two forenoon hours, from 9.30-11.30, in the Nordhalle again. Fischer spoke 
first, the usual stuff about German unity. Then a Russian colonel from Berlin, 
Tulpanov or something like it. 116 In very broken German, but good content. 
Very sharp against reactionary forces (Berlin election! 117 ), almost threatening, 
very emphatically praising free Soviet democracy and its attitude to culture. 
Then a representative from the Department of Popular Education [...]. Finally 
as the actual main speaker Gute on the 'Conditions and Experiences of the 


November 1946 


157 


General German Art Exhibition'. (Of which I now possess a fine catalogue, and 
which I have never really seen, because each time I went I had to talk to x 
people. And I also felt, as so often, incapable of absorbing such a collection.) 
Gute reported the very interesting statistical result of a questionnaire. Of 73,000 
visitors, 65% disapproved of the exhibition, apart from 2% who were rude 
about it. The greatest approval was on the part of housewives and young girls. 
Expressionism and abstract painting are without exception disliked. Gute did 
not come out in favour of them, but on the one hand of the absolute freedom 
of art, on the other of its closeness to the people. Used the phrase 'art a social 
function' and the like a great deal. [. . .] Once again I was together with all kinds 
of people: Grundig, Winde, Grohmann etc. Trifles, but I pick up this and that . . . 

At home, as arranged, I found the Neumarks and Gustl, the prison barber. He 
was to confirm to them, that there really is no way of getting through to the 
Russian Military Court and to the Russian police. (They always think I could 
help them in some way, and everyone advises me to be careful.) Gustl has 
meanwhile heard that N. has not been put in a camp at all, but in the gaol at 
Munchener Platz. That means that he is still subject to legal proceedings, and 
that again, that he will probably be released. 

Then again, for the fourth time! Arthur Rudolph and wife, tormenting sitting 
until about 5.30. The picture will be very good, but it takes up far too much 
time. 

Hardly had the Rudolphs gone, than the light was once again taken away for 
an hour. [. . .] 

Now I am relieved of the PHS and yet the LTI is still not making any 
headway. And the mountain of arrears of correspondence is piling up instead 
of diminishing. It is about 11 p.m., I want at least to knock off a little cor- 
respondence now. 


31st October , 1 a.m. Thursday night 

[...] 

Heart problems, rheumatism, inoculation against the everlasting furuncular 
leprosy. Relaxation and falling asleep while sitting. Correspondence and the 
usual tangle of distractions. For all that immersed in the LTI. 'The Jewish war' 
has just been completed. - Dost, at whose Blasewitz secondary school I bought 
books for the Romance department, told me yesterday articles on the 'Language 
of the Beast' 118 were appearing regularly in a Western newspaper. [. . .] That 
worries me. I know that my LTI will be like nothing else; but I fear, that it will 
no longer be topical and perhaps even not be published. Progress is too slow. 

[...] 


4th November, Monday evening 

Friday, as far as I remember, was for once entirely devoted to the LTI. 'The 
Jewish spectacles'. I have meanwhile received the contract and have undertaken 
to deliver the remainder in 4-5 weeks. 


158 


The Lesser Evil 


[. . .] At about 5 p.m. agitated telephone call from Eva Blank and Egon Rentz- 
sch: in the evening Kneschke was due to speak to the Aue KB on Tasks and 
Goals of the Kulturbund': I must go and speak in his place. In fact, I did do so. 
The car left here at 5.30 - 72 miles to Aue by way of Chemnitz. There at 7.45. 


6th November , midday Wednesday 

[. . .] Our life has meanwhile taken a serious new turn; it is as if E. begrudged me 
my angina and my expectancy of death; since Monday I know that she herself 
is threatened by cancer. That in her stoicism she has known it since the summer, 
without telling me, without doing anything about it. Recently her dropped 
stomach has been bothering her again, she wanted to be examined in Pima, 
the Wolffs drove us there on the afternoon of the day before yesterday [. . .] and 
the outcome of the examination there was an urgent recommendation to Dr 
Fritz, senior physician in the surgery and x-ray department of the Johannstadter 
Hospital. His decision this morning: radiation treatment 4x a week for 4 weeks, 
then operation to remove possibly only the small tumour on the right breast, 
possibly the whole breast. It is not one of the fatal spots - we know of women 
who have had such an operation and lived for many years or are still alive - 
Trude Scherk died in Theresienstadt in her seventies, Trude Ohlmann is still 
alive; but it is a memento nevertheless, at least as dreadful as the angina and at 
all events E. faces some difficult weeks. [. . .] 

The mood in Pirna was not good. Annemarie's face is very puffed-up, sub- 
ordinated to Dr Dressel in altogether voluntary bondage, depressed by the 
expropriation and imprisonment of her brother. Dressel still not rehabilitated 
[...]. Annemarie to me: 'Now you are the pg.’ Behind it is the usual: 'You behave 
just like the Nazis!' But 1) we do not behave like them, 2) perhaps we should 
behave like them, at least we should learn from them. [. . .] And 3) whose fault 
would it be if we had to do it? The curse of an evil deed! . . , 119 At any rate: In 
Pirna we are politically among enemies. [. . .] 

We did not see Frau Dressel; she was just giving a Bible class, she comes from 
a very Christian home. Dressel also inclines to the CDU. Annemarie not in any 
party: she had taken such a decided position against the Fascists, now she did 
not want to join anything at all any more. 


8th November , Friday evening 

Cancer weighing on my mind. In addition rheumatic pains and forever shivering 
with cold. In addition LTI at a standstill for 48 hours yet again. 

Yesterday Gladewitz summoned me to the State Administration: the cloth 
promised months ago. Something of a Greek gift: too heavy for a suit, too light 
for a coat - and boringly grey. Price not yet settled and ominous. But straight- 
away gave it to the tailor nevertheless. It is too much needed. Gladewitz said: 
'impossible for a professor to run around as you do.' - Doris Machol, who knows 
'Richard' from the International Brigades, is probably behind it. And who has 
sent us a couple of American tins. And who has already telephoned us 2x. And 


November 1946 


159 


who has talked to Ufermann of the press association. As a result of which I 
received a telegram yesterday, to speak at a matinee on 1 December. But thoughts 
of E. force their way into all feelings of pleasure. 

This afternoon was once again messed up by sitting for Rudolph. But now he 
has almost finished the picture. Almost. 


14th November , Thursday evening 

After many inner and gloomy impediments my most difficult LTI chapter 'Zion' 
is at last finished. The whole book must now be finished in the coming weeks. 
Better to abridge than to let it drag on any longer. [. . .] I have had enough of 
the subject, also it is less and less topical. 

Yesterday, 13 Nov., I spoke at a district meeting of the SED, Plauen, in the 
elementary school next to the town hall to 90 intellectuals on 'Who Makes 
History?' [. . .] Place intellectual history above the history of battles. Role of the 
individual and of the generality ... My lectures this year, all set down in 
headwords on long strips of paper, present in ever new combinations and 
variations always the same 3, 4 themes 'Cultural interdependence', 'Humanism', 
Montesquieu (personality, state principles), 'heroism'. Somewhat sterile with 
the passage of time. 

I read the proofs of 'People's High School 1946', which Paedagogik [Education] 
has now given the title 'Encyclopaedia and People's High School'. 

[...] 

Among my themes I forgot 'High School and Democracy'. That is really what 
made my name in February in Berlin. - In the audience yesterday Barkhausen 120 
and Reingruber, the Kulturbund MP, the only one in the whole of Soviet 
Germany. I so much wanted to sit on the city council, so much in the Saxon 
parliament. Nothing came of either. Now I am fighting for the Reichstag. 121 - 
Vanitas. And always suppressing the thought of death. Lately E. troubles me 
more than myself. What would become of me, if I were to outlive her? I would 
not have the courage to put an end to things and yet I would be completely 
empty. Her condition is not good. [. . .] 

At the moment between all stools. Completely out of the PHS, no one thinks 
of somehow making me honorary director. Without employment at the TH, 
and Leipzig unattainable. 


23rd November , 11 p.m. Saturday evening 

Of the greatest importance is the unexpectedly revived Greifswald question (see 
28-29 June). I had thought the business over and done with long ago. Now 
there arrived a canvassing letter from Dr Dr Weidhaas, who provisionally holds 
the chair of art history there and one from Jacoby, the dean. [. . .] We are very 
seriously considering an acceptance; I feel to some extent let down by Dresden, 
by government, city and Party equally. I wrote very 'fundamentally ready' to 
both the people in G. [. . .] 


160 


The Lesser Evil 


[. . .] My days are entirely taken up with the LTI - everything else has been 
pushed to the margin, must wait, is only distraction. And E. is entirely occupied 
with the radiation treatment in the Johannstadter Hospital. Thus despite all the 
incidentals a consistently full life. 

Slow progress. Jewish suite completely finished, likewise 'Dedication' + 'Hero- 
ism' and 'Superlative'. - Distressing lighting cuts. 

[...] 

My visitors: Mother and daughter Jahrig (Neumark's secretary). Tragicomedy 
of the 18-year-old daughter: trained as a Russian teacher in crash courses, would 
like to take the general teaching course, must stick with Russian alone, because 
has shown particular talent for it. Overburdened - has to simultaneously already 
teach and continue studying [...]. She talks about the serious resistance of 
parents to the Russian lessons of their children. 'If I come home with a 5, my 
parents are pleased' ... [. . .] 

One evening recently a wireless adaptation of Jean Anouilh's Eurydice. 122 Very 
well acted and it moved me greatly. So very French - Antiquity, Manon 123 
and set in an express train; tradition, classicism with neo-Romanticism and 
eroticism, very modern and carefree. After an infinitely long time an aug- 
mentation of French material for me. But first the LTI must be completed. It 
must be brought to a conclusion before the end of the year. 


25th November ; Monday afternoon 

[...] 

Yesterday, Sunday, the good Frida Dittrich, 124 my instructor at Thimig & 
Mobius, was here in the morning, together with the Wolffs we ate at the 
Rudolphs. Success: R. is to paint Frau W., but is disappointed that the Wolffs 
did not buy any finished work. 

Work on the LTI crawls along. 'From the great movement forward.' 


28th November , Thursday morning 

The second roast rabbit at the Rudolphs together with the Wolffs of last Sunday 
will be paid for like this: Frau Wolff will be painted for 4,000M + taxes. 

The good Dittrich wrote me a letter. I should help her pg brother. The usual. 


8th December, Sunday towards evening 

This morning in the Academy hall. Trinks spoke on the cultural consequences 
of the Dresden exhibition. I chaired and slept. Afterwards the usual discussion. 
The public does not want to know anything about Expressionism, Volwahsen 125 
etc. defend it passionately. New was Erich Seidemann turning up. He would 
have been unable to bring his class, they would have laughed. He quoted 
Andersen's fairy tale of the King's new clothes [...]. It seems to me a political 
tragicomedy, the way 'abstract art' is now being brought into play against the 


December 1946 


161 


SED and is alienating the workers. The SED only believes it has to support the 
abstract artists, because Goebbels suppressed these people as 'degenerate' and 
turned them into martyrs. 

Berlin trip for the lecture to the German Press Association Central Office [...]. 

That's already long past, and I shall be brief. 

Constant battle, constant telephoning and new arrangements for the car. At 
midday on Saturday a heavy French car with a very brisk driver arrived from 
the local FDGB [Freier Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund - Free German Trades 
Union Federation]. With me Frau Freese and a female secretary from the FDGB. 
Terrifically fast journey, 70 miles an hour [. . .] in Berlin in 2\ hours, shortly after 
4. - Adlon. Standing behind me in the office, a complete surprise for both 
parties, Weidhaas. On Sunday morning I breakfasted with him alone. [. . .] 

I had the big car at my disposal for the afternoon and drove first to Anny 
Klemperer, 11 Heinrich Stephanstr., near the Radio Tower. I visited her again on 
Sunday afternoon. Bombed out, a summer house, evidently only 3 rooms of a 
much-divided apartment. A handsome room, which contains her bed, as living 
room. There must also be space for 18-year-old Peter and for the white-haired, 
stooped, but vigorous maid, who was already part of the household before 
Peter's birth. Anny youthful looking, but almost deaf, 61, very cordial to me, I 
had to drink cocoa, eat white bread, I got cigarettes and unroasted coffee as 
presents - she receives packets from the USA and Switzerland, but complains 
greatly about confined and difficult life. Her finances are unclear to me. ('The 
property has been confiscated - if only I had not had those houses!') Her son 
Georg wants to marry a Swiss woman and go abroad, at present looking for 
work somewhere in Bavaria. Peter, about to take his school-leaving certificate, 
wants to be a doctor, politically interested in the SPD (Schumacher), against 
SED. Came to my lecture, is solicitous of me [...]- but obviously does not have 
a good relationship with his mother, talks very quietly to her, although one has 
to shout at her, in order to be understood. [. . .] Anny, too, astonishingly modern. 
If Berthold had heard her talking about the rape of an elderly aunt. 'He threw 
her on the bed - she didn't even know what he wanted.' (Without particular 
disgust and agitation!) 

So on Saturday afternoon I drove off from Anny in the car; on Sunday, after 
the car had let me down, I took the Circle Railway from Witzleben to Prenzlauer 
Allee to Doris Machol. She lives with her Mackie (Max Kahane) in Gudvangerstr. 
[...]. The third person there is a vigorous 81 -year-old, Doris's grandmother, a 
calm easy-going old woman, who is treated very affectionately. Bohemian 
household. A kitchen-living room and a large room with few but elegant and 
tasteful pieces of furniture. Two couches placed at right angles, a table in front 
of them, a bookcase, in the middle of the room a desk. Whether the granny 
lives next to or in the kitchen I do not know. Kahane, mid-30s, speaks very 
calmly and openly about their relationship. He knows nothing of his wife in 
Palestine, has become estranged from her. Both names, Doris Machol and M. 
Kahane, are on the lobby door. 'No one is interested in that now. If there are 
children, we'll see what we do then.' Calm happiness of both without affected 
emotion. He was well advanced in his studies when Hitlerism brought them to 


162 


The Lesser Evil 


an end. Slim man, sharp-featured Jewish face, very slightly the same type as the 
musician Otto Klemperer - but without any fanaticism whatsoever, without 
any affectation whatsoever. He fought at Teruel , 126 was the German head [of the 
prisoners] of a camp in the south of France , 127 Gladewitz was an orderly there 
[...]. I must get Doris to tell her story in greater detail. She paints, showed me 
a picture she had done of her mother, who died of breast cancer, gave me a 
water-colour landscape for E., who for her part has given Doris a little golden 
ring from Katchen Sara's estate . . . Both evenings with K. and D. passed very 
pleasantly and nourishingly. I soon found it easy to be on close terms with him 
and have a calm objective conversation. [. . .] 

The stay at the Adlon was woeful. Horrible damp cold; I froze and had bad 
pains on the first night; on the second I slept in pullover and underpants, the 
new coat over the quilt. In the morning the electricity was cut off and no 
substitute light to shave by. At breakfast: 'Please wrap the bread and meat up 
for me. - Does Sir have paper? . . . No? ... I shall see what I can do.' Then the 
elegant stuff is packed in newspaper for me. An apartment in the Adlon, the 
most elegant hotel! But of course no warm water. I breakfasted up against the 
iron stove. 

On Sunday morning, therefore, I first of all conferred with Weidhaas and told 
him all my demands. Then Julius Mossner 128 picked me up. A large handsome 
hall on Leipziger Strasse, but hardly 5 full, there are supposed to have been 150 
people there, exclusively journalists. Doris and Mackie among them - I had 
palpitations, but then spoke well, and it is supposed to have been a success. 
[...]. 

On Monday morning to the Central Administration. Rompe sick, his depart- 
ment head, a grey-haired Dr Bohme 129 was in the picture. A sort of colleague, 
Romanist/Hispanicist. [. . .] He acted as if I were an applicant and should jump 
at the opportunity, as if I were obliged to accept quite vague promises, as if I 
were making exorbitant demands. At that I became very forceful. Weidhaas was 
present at the meeting. I said, if they wanted to have me, they should come to 
me, I would not lift a finger, I did not need Greifswald. Bohme was shocked, 
and matters concluded fairly hopelessly. (Meanwhile a fairly flattering letter has 
arrived today, 11 Dec., from Jacoby, he will do his best. Meanwhile I had a bad 
argument on the telephone with Donath, who would like to have me away 
from here, in which I slammed down the receiver. Meanwhile I am so worried 
about Eva, who is becoming ever more frail, very worn out by the radiation 
treatment and the terrible shortage of food - no fats, no meat, no tea, nothing! - 
and who is very evidently facing a serious breast operation, that the Greifswald 
question no longer seems very important to me.) In the middle of the nego- 
tiations, there came a telephone call from the Press Association: there was no car 
for me, force majeure. Mollification: I should contact Willmann (Kulturbund), 
something would happen. I arranged to meet W. Rendezvous and meal in the 
'Club of Cultural Workers', the house in Jagerstr., whose opening we had 
celebrated in the summer. It was very nice and elegant there, and I was 
Willmann's guest. With him came Klaus Gysi, a gentleman from the drama 
publishing section of Aufbau and Dr Friedrich Wolf, who had been due to speak 


December 1 946 


163 


to our Dresden KB on Sunday and had not been picked up, who was supposed 
to attend his Tuesday premiere [in Dresden] and did not know how. He did not 
make any very overwhelming impression on me, just as I do not think very 
highly of his plays. Rather loud man, forced heartiness, roughly in his early 50s. 
While we were eating, Ufermann appeared, a car was waiting for me downstairs. 
It was a very little car with a very weak engine and a driver, pure Berliner, 
nevertheless tremendously calm and slow. Stage comedy character and complete 
opposite of the 70 mile an hour guzzler on Sunday. [There were] strict instruc- 
tions not to continue driving after nightfall, there were too many armed holdups 
precisely on the Berlin-Dresden stretch. (I had recently even been told, I would 
be assigned a Russian officer as escort - which of course did not happen . . .) It 
was almost 2 p.m., the car would take 5 hours - how then could the darkness 
be avoided? And Wolf even wanted to go to his apartment in Pankow, change 
his clothes and, as he hinted to me, fetch a nicer set of dentures. There was a 
lengthy discussion and finally, in annoyance, Wolf slammed the car door shut 
from the outside and we drove off. Wolf then attended his premiere here after 
all, but did not get in touch. Pity. 


11th December, Wednesday evening 

[...] 

Characteristic features of recent days: the increasing concern about E., the 
ever greater food shortage, the many aches while walking. The walk to the 
Biittner concert 130 in Weintraubenstr. yesterday was desperate. I understood 
next to nothing of the music; but it was good that we talked to Eva Biittner; 
she is going to try to obtain foodstuffs for us from Piskowitz. But it will be 
Christmas before it gets to us. And meanwhile E. goes on starving. 

[...] 


16th December, Monday morning 

It has turned terribly cold, our little stove is not enough, we suffer greatly, I am 
writing in my winter coat. 

Today, for the first time in 1 1\ years, I shall speak in the TH . For the Kulturbund 
about the LTI in the large Chemistry lecture theatre. I am now talking about it 
for the third time (Dolzschen, Plauen, TH). [. . .] Fraulein Mey just told me on 
the telephone, I had already also spoken to the teachers at the Junghansschule 
about the LTI. So today is the 4th time. - 'Running hot and cold' is finished 
and Tutting the theory to the test' begun. This week must see the end of it. My 
hands are too stiff to write. So type LTI. 


17th December, Tuesday night 

Tonight for the second night I shall sleep on the sofa in the front here by the 
stove under two coats in all my clothes. All available blankets have been piled 


164 


The Lesser Evil 


on top of Eva. In this cold our bedding is not enough for the two of us. 

Yesterday for one and a half hours I dragged myself step by step in great pain 
in the cold wind to the TH. I did not think I would make it any more. Once 
there I recovered immediately and then spoke well - to 50 people at most in 
the large Chemistry lecture theatre. [. . .] 

On Friday, the 13th, we were invited to the Steiningers. Coffee and cake, later 
a plate of potato soup as well and two slices of bread as a little supper, on top 
of that a warm room - under present circumstances it was splendid. The 
Hanuschs were there and a married couple, the man, seemingly a dismissed pg 
grammar-school teacher, now in business, often in the English zone. He talked 
about the liveliness and harmlessness of the illegal passage between zones. 
Sometimes it cost a small fine and confiscated foodstuffs, but in the southern 
Harz hills hundreds were managing it every day. The tanks on either side of the 
Russian-English border were a legend. - Today Frau Rasch burst out bitterly: 
The Russians take everything away from us, in their headquarters there is an 
abundance of light and food - and here? The workers were incensed. The 
Americans and the English would drive the Russians out . . . Then again: the 
war would have come anyway even without German responsibility. Capitalism 
was to blame for everything! ... It won't take long, then we'll have a new 
Hitlerism. Frau Rasch: the Nazis were doing all right again, the workers badly. 
In short complete confusion. As I said, in the end we'll get a new Hitlerism. 

Still to be added is the Dolzschen Christmas party on Saturday 14 Dec. 
Crowded but warm room with potato salad and coffee and cakes from 7 until 
about midnight. Eva accompanied two pupils, a boy and a girl, of Lotte Kreisler, 
who was there with her husband. Quite a nice evening - only the pain while 
walking! 

Saxon government: Hartsch, an unknown schools inspector, 131 SPD man, has 
become education minister. What will become of Gute? 


20th December, Friday evening 

E. has a second suspicious lump on her breast. Very depressing. I myself am 
greatly tormented and impeded by rheumatism + heart + cold. Bad pains when 
walking. 

We are both now sleeping here in the study; E. on the couch, the mattress is 
got in for me every night. Battle with the lighting cuts. Yesterday in the dark 
until 10, then wrote until 2. The LTI is approaching its conclusion. [. . .] 

Today futile running around for coal. [. . .] Frau Rasch in an outburst against 
the Russians, whom the popular mood now blames for everything, said with 
Nazi quotation marks ' Soviet paradise' 132 . Counterpart: the SED announcer 
of the Leipzig broadcasting station says: by recruiting worker-students etc. we 
must get rid of the ' so-called objectivity' of scholarship! It could drive one to 
despair. 


December 1946 


165 


25th December, 10 p.m. Christmas Day evening 

On Saturday 21 Dec. I wrote the last part of LTI; since then winding it up: 
making a copy of one part, reading the whole thing through, looking for 
repetitions, ordering the pieces ... I began writing on 25 July 45; I studied my 
diary for it almost from the day we arrived. Frequent interruptions - People's 
High School and many lectures. Always, even now, vacillation: how far a study, 
how far a diary? The most difficult book of my life. And even now I do not 
know, how 1 should judge it. Some things very good, others doubtful. Perhaps 
the book will sink among a 1000 similar ones, perhaps it will be a success. 
Possible that I shall be completely finished by New Year's Eve. 

Recently very bad rheumatic-heart problems; walking is torture. Most excru- 
ciating the walk on Saturday 21 Dec. to the Christmas party of the Victims of 
Fascism in Kaitz Inn. [. . .] I did not think I would manage it. Head wind, dreadful 
pain. I recovered at the inn, and we got a car back (crammed full). Once there 
it was very nice, even though the heating was hardly adequate. We each received 
a little bag with gingerbread, 5 cigarettes, a piece of soap. We got a schnapps, 
potato salad and a meatball, coffee and four(!) pieces of cake, very nice cabaret 
turns. There was dancing. Next to us the Glasers. The Erich Seidemanns, Eva 
Schulze-Knabe. Hilse, the head of the VoF. office, 133 Bautzenerstr. gave an address, 
will try to help me get coal. 

On Sunday morning to the Christmas Fair in the Nordhalle. Ordeal of getting 
there. Bad rheumatic or heart pains or both together. Alleviated as soon as I sit 
down and do not have to breathe the cold air . . . We needed presents. There are 
only toys [. . .] and pictures. The Kulturbund stand we looked for was closed, a 
young man who knew me buttonholed us: Kneschke's nephew, employed in a 
second-hand art shop. We bought a few sheets for around 100M for the Wolffs 
and other obligations. E. very charmed by a framed oil painting of a gently 
foggy winter landscape Our Garden by a woman painter unknown to us from 
1901. Since she wanted the picture, I bought it for 300M. The first time in my 
life, after we recently bought a water colour from Rudolph for 300M. Aside from 
that I have called in the mortgage on our house. Of the 12,000M I shall have 
11,000 on my account by the beginning of January, the sum in full before the 
end of January. In order to pay it off immediately I am making a short term 
borrowing from Wolff. Just avoid having any cash! - Insane conditions. I have 
saved that up in the course of years, and we're starving. One can't spend 
anything in the normal way, and it's not enough for black market prices. And 
now we shall have the house unencumbered and nothing in it belongs to us, 
except a piano stool (present from Wolffs) and a couple of paintings. 

[...] 


29th December, 11.30 Sunday evening 

After a week of very intense correction work I have just packed up the LTI and 
will send it off tomorrow. I was at home the whole time - as soon as I go outside, 
the pain is too great. [. . .] 

For all that I worry more about E's health than about my own. The distressing 


166 


The Lesser Evil 


radiation treatment - interrupted in the last few days by skin inflammation - is 
drawing to an end, and the operation is to take place then. God knows, how 
big and with what result. E. lies down a lot, is alarmingly thin and very pale. 
On top of that the lack of food. The expected packages don't come at all. 

[...] 


31st December, Tuesday ; New Year's Eve 11 p.m. 

E. is already asleep, next to her the Raschs are making up my bed which has to 
be brought in every day. 

Very gloomy New Year's Eve mood. E.'s prophylactic radiation treatment 
ended today, after an interval of four weeks, she will be referred to Dressel for 
the operation. Finding on the right side: undoubtedly 'malignant' lump; the 
knot on the left is 'cause for concern'. [. . .] 

I myself: at home I have no problems, out walking I am brought up short 
after a few steps by serious pain. Merely neuritis or also heart? 

On Thursday Wolff, who is being very obliging, will drive us to Pima, where 
Dressel will also examine me. 

[...] 

Since sending off the LTI I have continuously dealt with accumulated private 
correspondence, long letters to the Jelskis, Agnes Dember, Hans Meyerhof, Berta 
Meyerhof. 134 

Resume of work - I shall cover the period June 45-31 Dec. 46, because last 
New Year's Eve I did not yet make any proper summing-up. It's not much. The 
LTI, the study 'People's High School 1946', the Barbusse-Plievier study, a couple 
of short things for Aufbau [periodical] and newspapers; very many (how many?) 
lectures, all variations on the same theme 'Cultural interdependence'. The two 
great successes: Central conference of the KPD in February, and the matinee of 
the Press Association on 1 Dec. 46, both in Berlin. - My work at the People's 
High School, essentially at the Evening Grammar School, until the 1st of Nov. 
A couple of lectures on the LTI [...]. Spoke frequently in small places and 
suburbs. 

The question of my actual professional employment remains open. As long 
as it trains only vocational teachers I am superfluous at the TH. Leipzig appears 
finally closed to me, Griefswald in the balance. Since Eva's condition has been 
added to my angina, I no longer attach so much importance to the academic 
question. My salary here will not be taken away from me and everything else is 
vanitatum vanitas. 

In these one and a half years I have earned so much, that I am redeeming the 
12,000M mortgage. 

[...] 

Today a very extensive catalogue arrived from the Aufbau publishing house; 
my LTI is already announced in it - also the Romance Philology, on which not 
an atom of preparatory work has yet been done. 

[...] 


December 1946 


167 


Eva is asleep, on the wireless a New Year's party from the Leipzig 'Oper- 
ettenhaus' - what kind of place is that - is in full swing. 

It is only another 10 minutes to 12. And where shall we be next New Year's 
Eve? Father always said 'on Sirius'. - Keep on working, everything else is 
nonsense and a waste of time. And when at last some foreign package reaches 
us and the grub gets a little better, then perhaps my mood will also improve. 






1947 


2nd January, Thursday evening 

[...] 

In Pima today in Wolffs car at about 12, back from there at about 4. E/s 
radiation treatment over for the time being, will only have a sample taken at 
the end of January. Question whether the tumour is malignant. On the same 
day I myself am to have a small wart on my chest removed, which I have had 
for many years and has now become painful. Dressel thinks my terrible pains 
while walking are caused by spondylitis. He urged me to place myself under 
observation by a heart specialist, and to give fewer lectures out of town. He 
appears to take my condition more seriously than Eva's. - We had brought 
potatoes and ate lunch with the Dressels-Annemarie. The Dressel family, 
himself, wife, 3 children, old mother, dominate, Annemarie is a kind of tol- 
erated, incorporated aunt. Her face puffed up with illness, her mood bitter - her 
brother missing in Miihlberg [Soviet] camp. Under the wife's influence the 
Dressel family emphatically Protestant. Grace said by a child: 'Come Lord Jesus 
They are anti-Russian, anti-SED. I feel as if in a hostile foreign land. 

I consider the situation here in general, mine in particular, to be altogether 
critical, the Russians are hated by everyone, the ruling SED likewise, and one 
day it will be taken out on the couple of Jews. 

[...] 

Dressel asked: The TH has been closed, hasn't it? - 'Why?' - 'The professors 
are all said to have been sent to Russia!' 


5th January, 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon 

[. . .] At home Agnes from Piskowitz had unexpectedly turned up with her 
brother-in-law Rothe, the man from the Wendish spinning room. He left in the 
afternoon, she remained until the following midday; it was something of a 


170 


The Lesser Evil 


strain, but a little bit nourishing. (A small amount of butter, some flour, a loaf.) 
We are due to be in Kamenz on the 8th and then get some potatoes from 
Piskowitz - they are sorely needed. [. . .] 

As a Christmas present Aufbauverlag sent several books and calendars, 
Willmann telegraphed New Year's greetings, Gysi sent his by post. 

An altogether fine, humanly deeply moving letter from Major Hans-Joachim 
Hirche in Munsterlager [camp]. Liineburg district. A long time ago [. . .] I wrote 
a curt letter of refusal to his mother; I intend to give this letter a serious reply. 
[...] 


10th January ; Friday forenoon 

Frost moderated, but the resulting misfortunes, especially the frozen water pipe, 
still unchanged. 

[...] 

Loewenkopf warned me in the strongest terms against doing anything in the 
Neumark case. He himself had just had 9 days under house arrest and under 
guard because of some business, young Pionkowski (see my diary of the Hitler 
years) had been inside for 3 months 1 - 'what are 3 months to the Russians?!' - 
Acquainted with Eva Buttner from earlier days, he broke out in enthusiastic 
memories of her - he was inordinately jargon-ridden and inordinately Zionist. 
(How will these people receive my LTI?) He read from a letter from Palestine - 
'Criminals, who are now leading the English nation!' (At the moment the 
Zionists are conducting a real war against the English.) 


11th January, Saturday forenoon 


8th-9th January, Kamenz-Piskowitz 

Eva Buttner arrived here at 5 p.m., we drove very packed in and infinitely slowly 
to K. Ice, fog Hotel Blauer Stern on the market place, where we stayed 

on the day of the plebiscite. Russian quarters, therefore well heated, we got a 
warm room, a splendid supper with meat, the next morning butter with syrup 
with breakfast. The lecture, set for 7 p.m. in the 'Stadt Dresden', was given at 8 
to about 40 people. Great success, all very nice, but the couple of steps between 
the hotels were agony and I also felt extremely ill before going to sleep. [. . .] So 
I spoke about the LTI. [. . .] Then we sat with Eva Buttner for a while drinking 
grog. [. . .] 

Then, at about 12, E. and I were driven to Agnes. She lives in the former girls' 
land-labour service hut, very cramped, but very warm (wood and hearth) [...]. 
We were splendidly [. . .] fed: rabbit, sauerkraut, cake, pancakes - we were able 
to hoard a great deal from Dresden: cake, 2 eggs, a loaf, a cwt. of potatoes. I 
obtained a second cwt. from Krahl, the Nazi mayor in February 45. He says, and 
I believe him, because he knew our and the Blumenfelds' maids, courted our 
Anna Durrlich, 2 he says, at the time he had known very well, whom he was 


January 1947 


171 


dealing with. (Naturally he also knew, that the Nazi regime was close to collapse.) 
He is now very decently looking after Agnes, who speaks highly of him. [. . .] 
From Agnes we also got a feather bed. We gave her 100M for everything, we 
paid Krahl 10M for his cwt. - all most reasonable purchases, the price for a cwt. 
of potatoes alone is already 50-1 00M. We commissioned Agnes, for good money, 
to get whatever she could spare us to Eva Biittner. Very loaded down and 
squashed, we drove slowly back to Dresden with Eva Biittner. [. . .] I did not feel 
at ease until we had all our booty in the house, unconfiscated. It was about 
5.30. There was no light; we sat in darkness until 10 p.m. 

[...] 

The Wolffs, arriving from Berlin, said it was forbidden to import the news- 
papers of the other [Berlin] sectors - Kurier, Telegraf, Tagesspiegel - into our zone. 
The Tagesspiegel wrote about my speech of 1 Dec., it had been one-sidedly pro- 
Russian for political ends. 


13th January, Monday night 

Yesterday telegram from Anny Kl. 'Georg passed away peacefully in his sleep.' 3 
It did after all touch me with a shudder and a sense of isolation. 

[...] 

I corresponded a great deal. Vossler, Hilde Jonson, Marta, Anny Kl. etc. etc. 


15th January, Wednesday morning 

Dr Willy Katz 13 Jan. 47 t [•••]. Strange how it coincides with Georg's death 
for me. I had given Katz Georg's last two letters to read - about the 
ineradicableness of German anti-Semitism and with the warning against a 
political career - and he was delighted and flattered. I had not seen him for 
months, had spoken to him on the telephone less than 2 weeks ago. He had 
for a long time been a lost and broken man, a sanatorium stay [. . .] did not 
help him any more. He had been elected an LDP city councillor, he was 
supposed to get a post in the city administration and had to turn everything 
down. When I last spoke to him - I had the ambition of promoting him - he 
was already tired to death. He wrote to me, we were now 'companions in 
suffering' - he meant the angina. 

Despite much pain I had to risk going into town yesterday: Victims of Fascism, 
SED, Food Office - as I was beseeching Hilse for tea at the Victims of Fascism, a 
comrade came in: 'we need 2 wreathes, for X and for Dr Katz.' Later Frau 
Heidenberger telephoned me on behalf of Katz's widow, whether I would speak 
a few words at the coffin. [. . .] Katz was only two years older than myself. 

[...] 


19th January, Sunday morning 

Frau Rasch has been in bed for several days and will stay there for a long time 
yet: heart. Her husband, here at the moment (because he has no boots in which 


172 


The Lesser Evil 


he can work outside!) helps a little with the heaviest work, but otherwise: stress 
for E. and chaos. - As in earlier days, Rasch encompasses voces populi (plural) 
in himself. Constant within them the contempt for the Russians. The others 
are hated and respected, the Russians hated and despised. They are supposed to 
be just as much to blame for our misery as the others, and ' they did not defeat 
us'. And: it will turn out like after 1918, and we shall help ourselves [...]. Etc. 
etc. It is the return of Hitlerism and the workers agree with it. One thing he said 
shook me: 'Already today there are families, who are burning their wardrobe 
[for fuel], their table, their chairs, are sitting on one chair, they don't care about 
anything.' I add here, what Wildfuhr recently told us when he visited: '40 
people a day are dying in the Friedrichstadter Hospital; every morning the 
corpses are taken to the crematorium in a tramcar - the plague cart!' . . . My 
purely personal feeling: I wish I could leave Germany, before the next Nazi wave 
kills me . . . 

About contempt for the Russians: [. . .] at a Dolzschen meeting a little while 
ago the warning complaint from Russian headquarters, the public was behaving 
disrespectfully to the troops. 

[...] 

[. . .] On the evening of the same day [15th] meeting of the Victims of Fascism 
in the Miinchner Krug tavern. My first walk for a long time. Pain, managed it 
nevertheless. A national association of the VoF, all-party and radical, is to be set 
up. Hilse had talked to me about it the day before, I would probably be elected 
a delegate. Which is what happened. One of four, as representative of the 
'racially persecuted'. I was not very pleased by this designation. Earlier a Jew I 
do not know had spoken in favour of 'equal representation for Jews' and got an 
almost anti-Semitic brush-off as a result. I had intervened and emphasised, that 
I rejected all differentiations between Jew and Christian and acknowledged only 
Fascists and anti-Fascists. There was also an embarrassing point. The chairman 
of the meeting (Korner) inveighed fiercely against testimonies of friendship for 
pg's, it was unworthy of a Victim of Fascism. From those present, perhaps 60 or 
80 people, one heard: some do it 'for a packet of cigarettes'. I unfortunately 
said, I had written only 2 testimonies, for people who had saved my life (but 
Vogel and Weisbach, E. objected later. Utinam si tacuisses! 4 ). The Dresden 
delegates are to meet soon, and then representatives for a central Berlin meeting 
will be elected. - I do not feel very comfortable with all of that. Anti-Semitism 
everywhere. And my position between all stools. [. . .] 

The day after, Frau Hamann here to make music. She too one of the little pg's 
on whose behalf I would gladly intercede. She brought E. a silk slip, for which 
E has long been looking. We forced a tablecloth on her in return. But is it not 
nevertheless the 'packet of cigarettes'? At least it can be construed as that. 

[...] 

Letter from Helmut Hatzfeld, the 25% [Jewish] man. 5 Fled 38, lecturer under 
good conditions at the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. He 
'would never want to return to Germany'. In addition he writes, 'that Fried- 
mann 6 lost his nerve attempting to cross the Pyrenees and committed suicide. 
A collection is being made here for his wife and child.' [. . .] 


January 1947 


173 


Under the pressure of the current personal and general situation I see things 
particularly gloomily today and envy Hatzfeld greatly. 

A few months ago I felt sorry for Kafka, who without a post, ailing, having 
fallen out with everyone, is living in poor conditions. Now he has been called 
to a chair in Wurzburg. 


22nd January, Wednesday morning 

Cold, hunger, Frau Rasch's illness, approach of the day of the knife in Pirna, at 
a standstill professionally, both in connection with the outside world and my 
work, deep pessimism as regards politics, the Allies, Germany, the SED - for all 
that more dullness than depression: mostly I sit at home, work my way through 
the volumes of Neuere Sprachen [Modern Languages], doze off, listen to the 
wireless, turn lively late in the evening, read until about 1, lie down freezing - 
all in this one room, hope from post to post for something encouraging, 
improving - in vain. 

On the forenoon of Monday the 20th funeral of Willy Katz (f 13/1/47). A cab 
(something new) picked us up, then the widow [...]. Many mourners, the hall 
at the crematorium fairly full - 80-100? Chaotic arrangements, the Jewish cleric 
from Freiberg not present. Deliberation. A middle-aged Catholic priest, Father 
Hartmann, who lived in the same house and was a friend of the deceased, with 
him in mortis hora, 7 asks: 'did he believe in eternal life?' Lewinsky categorically: 
'Not a bit, I knew him for 35 years, he thought, when you're dead, you're dead!' 
The priest: 'Then I can do nothing.' I: 'You cannot know that, Lewinsky, I had 
a different impression of him.' (Of course I made it up.) The priest: Then / shall 
speak - he may have changed his mind.' Then Lewinsky, in the shabbiest 
coat, his back to the mourners, spoke, at his own request, Schiller's (absurdly 
inappropriate) 'Nanie' [Lament]. 8 Then, from the small lectern, speaking extem- 
pore without embarrassing pathos, the priest. He was speaking as a Catholic for 
the Jew, who in life had been a doctor of the body and who in his calm dying 
had been an example to the soul. Eternal life - without belief in it, life here 
would be 'a bad joke' Tolstoy had said; also we have an inborn longing, a natural 
instinct for it and such instincts never deceived . . . Everything about this little 
sermon was good and tactful - only the man said a dozen times: Katz's 'brothers 
in race', where once he would have said 'brothers in faith', and that was yet 
again a victory for the LTI. [. . .] Then as representative of the Jewish community 
Pionkowski read a few simple words. (Cf my diary 1942 or 43. P. was secretary 
of the community [...]. His mother was allowed to remain with him, when 
others were transported from Dresden. Later mother and son were evacuated 
together. A while ago I heard he was back, recently Loewenkopf, who was also 
present, said that P. had been detained for weeks by the Russians on suspicion 
of something or other.) After the ceremony P. told me, he and his mother had 
been deported to Riga - she had later been taken away - not heard of again. How 
he himself was saved, I do not know. - 1 spoke after P. [. . .] E. told me, what I said 
was very suited to Katz the officer. Afterwards at the coffin some representative of 
the medical profession shouted a few pathos-laden words, a wreath swinging 


174 


The Lesser Evil 


on his arm. Introductory and concluding music much too long. Before the end, 
the Kaddish spoken by Lewinsky. Ghastly. We stood with our hats on our heads. 
The responses sounded very faint. How many understood?? 

[..J 

Yesterday (21 Jan.) Kretzschmar-Neumark was here. He now wants to approach 
Buchwitz on behalf of the missing Neumark. To this end I had to repeat in 
writing (more or less) my statement to Cohn, the public prosecutor. I did it 
perforce and not without a quiet shudder, mindful of Loewenkopfs recent 
warning ... [. . .] 

Literally my whole working day - it is now almost 6 p.m. - has been lost due 
to two visits. First Frau Cohn, then the wife of the carpenter Lange. 9 What the 
latter had to say was interesting enough: her husband is working for the 'Yanks' 
over in Bavaria, Lechfeld air field, near Augsburg. She was with him for a couple 
of months, 'made herself healthy' with respect to food and clothing. But what 
was most interesting about her story, its tragic aspect, are the adventures, the 
hardships for days on end, losses and deadly dangers of illegally crossing the 
zonal boundaries: Yanks, English, Russians, German police: all hunt, arrest, 
confiscate, the Russians also shoot. She told of a mountain pack march through 
deep snow, pursuers behind them - one of the three was caught, completely 
stripped, beaten . . . Poor Germany! 

In the evening we are with the Raschs for a quarter of an hour, seeing how 
the patient is. The only warm room in the house. The whole family is in our 
small bedroom, which always seemed like a hatbox to me. A little iron stove 
with thick pipe spreads great warmth . . . We want to get rid of our tiled stove 
again and go back to the round iron stove, but now we lack the necessary pipe. 
[...] 

26th January , Sunday forenoon 

Yesterday evening excessively weary, cold, worn out from lack of sleep, 
depressed. On the morning of the 23rd spoke on a refresher course for new 
teachers, 160 people, Erich Seidemann spokesman. [...] In addition to the 
regular courses there are individual lectures, 3 speakers from the parties, 1 
from the Kulturbund. I chatted about the LTI, probably with some effect. - 
Then over breakfast in the canteen an older man came up to me, former 
worker, good-looking, later Seidemann spoke well of him: 'A question of 
conscience, Herr Professor. Sitting beside me is a woman teacher, 20, from a 
civil service family, LDP. She is writing an essay, instead of listening to you. 
I said to her, she should pay attention to the lecture. Reply: "No - I don't 
like the man." She wants to have nothing to do with Jews, that has been 
impressed on her, they are dirty, inferior etc. . . . Should I report her, should 
she be struck from the teaching profession??' I referred the man to Erich S., 
spoke to S. about it for some time - we were both shocked and uncertain. 
Today I shall hear from S., how the matter turned out. But whatever happens: 
the fact is there. One out of 160 new teachers gave herself away. How many 
do not give themselves away, how many are really genuine?? And above all: 


January 1947 


175 


Georg with his last warning: the Germans want to have nothing to do with 
the Jews, is 100% right. I am deeply depressed. 

[...] 

Yesterday afternoon at 1.30 the delegates' meeting to set up the Victims of 
Fascism association. Assembly hall of the Lande cigarette factory, Junghansstr., 
near the Ememann works. More than 100 participants. Hilse as chairman. I saw, 
in part spoke to, Gladewitz, Gute, Erik Mauthner, Eva Schulze-Knabe, public 
prosecutor Cohn, Koenen [...]. Many unknown to me, little people, workers. 
After the first few words with Hilse, I knew that I would not be among the eight 
to be sent to Berlin. 1 regretted that I had offered my services, and again felt 
that I count for nothing in the Party: I was not an activist, did not join until 
after the victory, am an intellectual and hanger-on. Max Opitz, a middle-aged 
man, spoke generally but not badly: the charitable society must be turned into 
a politically active organisation, radical and above party. Only later did I learn, 
that Opitz is the Dresden chief of police. 10 Very long debate om individual 
points, e.g. may a VoF exonerate Nazis? Above all: did we have a resistance 
movement ? One side: No, merely resistance groups. To be called a movement, 
there would have had to be an effect, action by masses of people, [army] 
divisions defecting, not just individual deserters. The others: We had a resistance 
movement, had a 'scaffold front'. The first side: Abroad they think us pre- 
sumptuous, if we talk about a German movement, even compare it with the 
partisans, the maquis etc. [. . .] I said, the French would misunderstand our 
reservations, and also we should simply say resistance, and completely discard 
the ghastly LTI word 'movement'. That pleased Opitz, who himself had spoken 
against the word movement . . . Koenen passionately preached unity and paci- 
fism, again and again pacifism, that alone can help us gain fairer peace con- 
ditions. (The Germany negotiations are to begin in Moscow on 10 March. 11 ) . . . 
But how can one preach pacifism here, when all around each country is outdoing 
the other in armaments? [. . .] 

A great many letters read and answered. [. . .] The unfulfilled longing for 
packets from abroad. The Russian zone has been open since 15 Jan. Berthold 
Meyerhof, New Jork and Sebi Sebba, Northampton, have given notice of parcels, 
the Care packet was ordered on 1 Nov. and nothing has come. An American 
newspaper cutting was enclosed with Berthold M.'s letter: 'Private Rites for Dr 
Klemperer', brief biographical words of praise (‘noted in Germany for his research 
in cancer and metabolism!, his book, ' his well-known standard textbook on medical 
diagnosis'). 

The little bit of correspondence and diary writing fills my days. I am very 
worn-out. I stand by the stove and drop off to sleep. My feet are constantly 
freezing. I always wear my old winter coat. The windows are thick with ice. 

[...] 


31st January, 4 p.m. Friday afternoon 

[...] 

The car should be here in half an hour. Then at 6.30, Wolff, true friend in 


176 


The Lesser Evil 


difficult moments! will take E. to Pirna. She will spend the night there and will 
be operated on tomorrow under a light anaesthetic. It is tentatively supposed 
to be a minor matter, two tiny tumours - the tissue must then be examined for 
cancer. I am not thinking any further, am apathetic. - Then at midday tomorrow 
Wolff will drive me to Pirna, a very old danger spot, the wart on my chest will 
also go under the knife. And in the evening we both hope to be here again. 


2nd February , Sunday forenoon 

Yesterday after our return from Pirna at 4 p.m., utterly exhausted and unable to 
take anything in hand. E. suffering great pain, I a little also. I stood by the stove, 
E. lay and groaned, I brought her this and that. To bed at 10.30, got up at 8. 
Still not washed and changed, still the terrible cold, 7° in the room. 

In Meissen therefore [31 Jan.-l Feb.] from dinner over to the theatre. I 
did not see it from the outside; inside miniature and comfortable, 450 seats 
distributed between stalls, boxes and circle. I was in the office, then came from 
the back past the stage to the director's box. Onstage behind the curtain was 
the scenery for the ballet from the 'Land of Smiles', 12 of which I saw the last 
two acts. [. . .] 

Intimate and very pleasant contact with Kociollek in his theatre office before 
and between the acts [. . .], during the meeting itself and finally and principally 
in his apartment on Friday evening and Saturday morning. Born 1893 in Lodz, 
father a tailor with many children, poverty, learns tailoring himself. Then 
autodidact, tenor and stage performer for many years. [. . .] But he is genuinely 
educated, thinks calmly and dispassionately, speaks with particular fondness of 
Spinoza, has good people (classics, philosophers) in his library. As charge hand 
of the Jewish workers at the Schwarze factory he was arrested because he had 
not reported wireless listeners. [. . .] Auschwitz, 'Going to sleep one put one's 
two daily slices of bread under one's neck. One's life depended on it. If one 
prisoner stole these pieces of bread from another, he was beaten to death by the 
camp inmates themselves' ... [. . .] 

At about 11 p.m., after the performance, I spoke in a hotel - the way there 
was torture! - to about 40 SED members, most of them theatre people. They 
were very satisfied. Then a dozen people, the actual core of the future theatre 
employees' group, remained behind around a table in the next room. General 
discussion, jumping from one thing to the next, on the party and cultural 
questions, attitude towards intelligentsia and working class, the West etc. etc. 
What had already been achieved, whether the situation of 1918/19 was being 
repeated. I brought up my Wachwitz case, the new teacher, who did not want 
to listen to the Jew. Education or dismissal, leniency or harshness - which causes 
more harm? I said, I myself was undecided, also felt myself to be partial. 
Opinions were divided ... I was entreated to speak to them again soon. (In the 
SED naturally gratis!) ... Meanwhile Erich Seidemann was here today: he 
reasoned with the girl and quashed the matter. To him I voiced all the pessimism 
that haunts me on this point and on the others ...[...] Back here at 10, washed, 
ate breakfast, and at 12 Wolff kindly brought me to Pirna. I found Eva very 


February 1947 


177 


poorly after the ether anaesthetic in bed in a cold room. I had to go to the 
operating table and was stabbed with an injection. The operation did not hurt, 
but made me terribly nervous, especially the shaving beforehand. The journey 
home not very pleasant for E., past the Friedrichstadter Hospital, where I right 
away handed in our 3 suspicious objects at the Pathology Institute. The rest of 
the day very unpleasant for E., but also for me. To bed at 10.30 and slept until 
8.15. Eva better today, but still very much in pain, and myself: tired, usque ad 
mortem. 

[...] 

In letters which crossed one another Marta had asked me, I had asked Marta, 
what had become of the Frankes. 13 Anny Kl. knew nothing of them. Yesterday 
a letter arrived from Else Franke, she had belatedly discovered my picture in the 
Illustrierte Zeitung and asked the editors for my address. 

[...] 


3rd February , Monday forenoon 

The first LTI galley proofs arrived by the morning post. 


8th February , Saturday evening 

Eva is still in bed feeling a great deal of pain. Yesterday morning we both had 
the stitches taken out in Pirna. We only managed to get a car to take us there - 
the promised KB car was on strike again - after dramatic toing and froing. [. . .] 
My health is very poor, the terrible freezing from morning to night is finishing 
me off. By turns I look after E. - we have not yet got the [histological] result - 
and myself. Mostly I do not even look after myself, but am merely apathetic 
and - to quote father - T would it were bed-time, Hal, and all well' [Henry IV, 
Act V, Sc. 1]. To add the final straw to our misery, the Raschs have managed to 
get an apartment, today they moved out without warning, and now we are 
without help. A replacement is supposed - supposed ... - to come on Tuesday, 
but not right away, and until then . . . The cold is not letting up, the kitchen is 
freezing, just before he left Rasch heaved aside the tile stove, bought a few 
months ago and completely useless, and in its place re-connected the small old 
iron stove; it provides a little warmth at least, and one can cook on it. But this 
one room which is now everything - sick room, bedroom, study, parlour, 
everything - looks terrible. [. . .] 

Reingruber reported from the Saxon parliament; he sits with the SED but 
does not have to vote with them. On Wednesday in the car he said: the cold 
had achieved a 'biological selection', the old and the weak had died. [. . .] And 
later once again: a friend had told him, there was no need to make too much 
provision for the future, nature itself would make the necessary corrections. 
Many of the desolate ruins would simply collapse in the next few years without 
anyone doing anything, and the surplus of people now crowded together in 
Germany would also diminish of its accord - biological selection! 


178 


The Lesser Evil 


Yesterday the official call to Greifswald arrived from Schwerin. Very courteous, 
but they can make me no special promises of any kind. But I am recommended 
to travel to Greifswald and confer in person, especially with the lord mayor 
there. I think it out of the question, that anything will come of the matter, also 
it tempts me only to a limited degree; but I will no doubt undertake the journey 
to Greifswald (when I go to Berlin). 

[...] 

Vossler [. . .] sent me his latest things: the Luis de Leon, which I already have, 
The World in a Dream', and the Wesensziige romanischer Sprache und Dichtung 
[Characteristics of Romance Language and Literature]. 14 

A nice letter from Peter Kl., who is taking his school-leaving certificate, he 
has gone over from the SPD to the SED, a youth discussion had convinced him 
that I was right, the SPD had a one-sided Western orientation, what counted 
now was the right foreign policy, and a Socialist could not be against the Soviet 
Union. He asked for a testimonial as to his anti-Fascist attitude; he needs it in 
order to be matriculated in Berlin. 


11th February, Tuesday evening 

Very difficult days. Continuing tormenting cold and walking anywhere tortures 
me with pain. On Sunday to my half-hour introductory lecture (Contemporary 
Writing) at the Academy, which in fact went down well. [. . .] 

Aside from that proof reading, proof reading. The publishers are printing at a 
breakneck pace, the galley proofs will soon all be here. [. . .] 

Letter from Sebi Sebba: obituary for Georg in a German, evidently Jewish- 
German New York newspaper. Very accurate: father rabbi, brothers Felix and 
Victor, who 'made outstanding contributions' as a Romanist. 

[. . .] Sebi, who again also enclosed sweetener, thread etc., writes, from 1 April 
he will be dismissed in favour of a British subject, 15 and thus without an 
income. - Letter from Willy Jelski: he is no longer an opera oboist, but in a 
freight company; he wants to return to Germany. 

Letter from Vossler: he advises against Greifswald, my place was Leipzig. 


12th February, Wednesday after minuit 

Today Dressel telephoned with the histological result: Eva quite unexpectedly 
completely harmless, no trace of cancer; my wart in the process of transition to 
malignancy, but everything probably removed, and Dressel thinks we can afford 
to wait and see whether anything else appears. - Almost comical. And with 
respect to E. a deliverance. Removal of the principal worry. Except there still 
remain so many smaller miseries, that the appropriate joy does not really make 
itself felt. 

Today father has been dead for 35, thirty-five! years. What right do I have to 
still be alive? 


February 1 947 


179 


Frost, pain, lack of food, proof reading. 

At 1 1 p.m. telephone call from Doris Machol in Berlin. Simply out of affection. 


18th February, Thursday evening 

Yesterday eventful. Call from Hilse: I am now after all going - one 'delegate' has 
resigned - to Berlin as a delegate to the foundation of the Victims of Fascism 
association. (Friday-Monday). In the afternoon it turned out that I may perhaps 
travel to Berlin one day earlier and take Kneschke's place at an Executive 
Committee meeting of the Kulturbund. [. . .] 

On the telephone in the afternoon there was an impassioned exchange 
with the KB. They had arranged as programme of the celebration of the first 
anniversary of the Dresden group: gala concert by the Staatskapelle (cond. 
Keilberth) and address by Prof. Klemperer. Concert programme: Prokofiev, 
Debussy, Hindemith. I protested: Berlin fashions, affair of cliques and aesthetes, 
we shall have opposition just as against the Expressionism in the art exhibition. 
After a fierce argument I succeeded in having a change made: instead of Hin- 
demith, Beethoven's 7th Symphony. 

[..J 

The post brought two packages from the excellent Sttihlers in Munich: full of 
bacon, cheese, coffee, it was a blessing and immediate help and improved our 
mood. At the same time a letter from Toni Gerstle and Jenny Schaps, who 
announced a London packet. But the shortage of potatoes remained. And the 
still-continuing frost extends it indefinitely. So today I went to the Grubes and 
offered sugar in exchange. As a result, Frau Grube came to us, brought 20 lbs 
and stayed for hours. 

[...] 


19th February, Wednesday night after 12 

Kneschke telephoned after our meal, there was no car to be had for Berlin, we 
would have to forego the Executive Committee meeting. Since walking and 
breathing in the icy air are bad for me, I was not especially offended at being 
unable to drive until Friday. - The light was cut off all day until after 10 p.m. 
[. . .] Until then read proofs. [. . .] Then Wolff drove his car into the garage and 
told me that early tomorrow he would drive (slowly with a new machine to be 
run in at a snail's pace) to Berlin. I vacillated greatly as to whether I should go. 
Fear about my health, fear of the agony of walking. Eva advised me to go. I 
would in any case set out on the journey a day later, only to do it in a greater 
rush. - As far as lodging and board are concerned things are uncertain. The 
Kulturbund will have to help out until Friday. My professional and private 
programme is long: Doris, Anny, the Frankes, Kulturbund and Aufbau, Central 
Administration, Paedagogik [periodical], Neues Leben publishing house and the 
Victims of Fascism business. 

I am leaving E. here without any help, I am travelling with great handicaps 


180 


The Lesser Evil 


and in a very light coat, I do not feel good about it all, and yet I must no doubt 
do it. 


27th February , Thursday afternoon 

I have not caught my breath since the extremely successful Berlin trip Thurs. 
20-Sunday 23 Feb. On Tuesday I spoke on the wireless about the VVN [Ver- 
einigung der Verfolgten des Naziregimes - Association of the Victims of the 
Nazi Regime], then until this afternoon I wrote the short VVN essay 16 - pub- 
lication date still uncertain. Almost daily electricity cuts, frost, tiredness and 
poor health are a great hindrance. 

[...] 

The light was gone until 10 p.m. Now it's after midnight. I wrote letters. 


28th February , Friday afternoon 

[...] 

Will I go to Greifswald, will I stay here? Today I heard: retirement already in 
force there, but coming here, too. No widow's pension, either here or there - 
for women over 65 dependent's pension, at most 90M a month. New worry. - 
From October we shall train elementary and grammar-school teachers here, so 
I would have nothing to fear. Stay? Go? 


Thurs. 20th-Sun. 23rd February , Berlin trip. 

Supplement in abbreviated form 

Results 

1) Negotiations and conclusions 

a) KB, Abusch, 17 Wilhelm, Gysi. Contract promised for French Lit. Hist.. [. . .] 
I shall perhaps get to Paris for a few weeks. Contract also for the 18ieme. Poss. 
[. . .] a monograph in addition. 4 broadcasts for the KB. 

[...] 

A young publisher, Henschel 18 (at the club) is bringing out 'Dramaturgische 
Blatter' [a drama periodical], has connections with France, wants to send me 
things, wants my collaboration. Also, cars from the VVN were travelling to 
France. 

b) At the club spoke to Leuteritz 19 of the Tagliche Rundschau. Advance extracts 
from LTI and articles: French lit. and Russian lit. 

c) At the Central Administration made the acquaintance of Dr Lange 20 of 
Paedagogik. My lecture at the Dresden People's High School inauguration will 
bring in 800-1000M. I am to write an essay of the same length on Kulturkunde 
[i.e. an approach integrating language, literature and culture of a country etc.]. 

2) Executive Committee meeting of the KB 

Friedensburg chaired. Bennedik gave the main paper. Theme Kulturbund and 


March 1947 


181 


Moscow. 21 Voice of the KB. Can we make demands? Long discussion of the 
word 'demands'. The Left rejects it as presumptuous. But nevertheless calls for 
German unity, export and industrial opportunities. [. . .] The session in the 'Red 
Salon' on Frid. 21, began at about 11 a.m. At 1 dinner was served at the same 
horseshoe table, then the talking went on until 4. 

3) The VVN Congress Saturday and Sunday , 22nd 23rd February 

[•••]! did not hear Dahlem's paper; 22 1 was at the Frankes' then. - Awkward 
was the Jewish question. Julius Meyer 23 spoke of the 'Jewish people' as one 
speaks of Poles and Russians, and isolated himself amidst animosity, not from 
the Nazis, but from Germany altogether. 'We shall never forget, not Crystal 
Night, not the 6 million dead' etc. Loewenkopf was more adroit. He roared with 
terrible fierceness what he once read to Eva Biittner and myself (as we were 
coming from Kamenz) from the letter of an emigre friend: 'they should wash 
themselves with soap, made from the fat of Jewish bodies; they should sleep on 
mattresses, stuffed with the hair of Jewish women - then perhaps they would 
not forget!' But he did not separate the German Jews from Germany. But in the 
canteen, when we were eating, he complained vehemently about new anti- 
Semitism, even in the SED [...]. 

4) On Saturday from 5.30 until about 9 there was a performance of Pastor Hall 
by Ernst Toller 24 in the Deutsches Theater. The most curious thing about it: the 
set for the first act: Realistic: the Hall family dining room. Expressionist: behind 
it a nightmare, anticipatory backdrop; the concentration camp, the masts of 
the live wire fences, the wooden watchtower. At first I did not understand it, 
because I had never seen such a camp. [. . .] Content of the piece worthy, but 
not overwhelming. Perhaps also because what was new for Toller in 1938 or 39 
is now old hat. [. . .] 


1st March , private matters 

Journey there with Wolff and a young black marketeer. [. . .] 

I was set down at the KB building on Schliiterstr., got a frugal meal there, 
spent hours with Willmann, Gysi, Abusch (the new man and 'ideological 
director' of the publishing house - Wilhelm is business manager, but does not 
much like to be reminded of this restriction), during intervals - as during the 
rest of these days - read my LTI proofs. [. . .] I then drove to the club - I had 
telephoned Doris earlier, without catching her, only leaving her a message . . . 
When I had finished supper - the food in the club is very good [. . .] Doris 
appeared. She is 'announced', I had difficulties getting her in. She complained 
the club was on the one hand very exclusive, on the other many insignificant 
journalists frequented it, and she herself was now chief editor of a section of 
the Soviet news agency. [. . .] 

Once in touch with Doris and Mackie, I had no more worries. I have become 
very attached to both of them and not just via my stomach. They are people of 
intellect and somehow congenial to me. During these days they really filled me 


182 


The Lesser Evil 


with warmth, gave me a kind of home. I lived in their kitchen, they themselves 
slept in the big room with the two couches at right angles [...]. Doris is more at 
home in French than in German. She has told me a great deal about her 
disrupted childhood. Heinz evidently treated the children of the first marriage 
lovelessly and brutally. With Mackie ('uncle', he says to me, as if it were the 
most natural thing [. . .]) talked about the Jewish theme. He is a little bit - pas 
trop 25 - more well disposed to the Zionists than I am, belongs to the Jewish 
community, without believing, has a completely German education (36 years 
old), parents Eastern Jews, is Very mad' at the Germans. [. . .] 

On Saturday afternoon I skipped Dahlem's paper and went to visit the Frankes: 
the tram set me down where Grossbeerenstr. begins at an oblique angle to 
Koniggratzerstr. (vieux nom), 25a but 55 Grossbeerenstr. lies almost at the foot of 
Kreuzberg hill [...]. Old Berlin, when I crossed Yorckstr., memories of Loew- 
enstein & Hecht 26 came to mind. In places great destruction, some corners 
unrecognisable. The Frankes in an old undamaged building. Large apartment, 
nicely furnished, but only one (large and gloomy) room very feebly heated. I 
only gradually recognised the three sisters again - not shabby, but sooo old and 
grey. Else at 71 the least changed. Stone deaf despite ear-trumpet, interrupting 
conversations with something unrelated. Great affection for me. They made me 
ghastly coffee, gave me 3 spread slices of bread, a gift. [. . .] 

Those are probably the essentials of the Berlin trip. 

In the catchwords of the Berlin notes I also find: 

From the Frankes' I took the underground to Oranienburger Tor, went from 
there along Karl and Albrechtstr. to the Deutsches Theater. The house from 
1890 with Denks, the tailor, is no longer standing. 27 The barracks square opposite 
is still empty! On the corner of Karlstr. and deep into Albrechtstr. a mysterious 
palace prison, a huge block with the tiniest window slits. Monumental dec- 
orative statuary on the Karlstr. side. Inscription 'Mother and Child'. I do not 
know what the thing was. At Doris's I heard: a bunker. So solid that it withstands 
attempts to blow it up. 28 


2nd March , Sunday morning 

Every second day now the same thing: waiting and counting flower petals - will 
the car come, will it not? Has it been 'organised', will it get up the hill in snow 
and ice? - Particularly awful weather since yesterday. [...] Now at 9.10 I am 
waiting for the car, that is to pick me up at 9 for Bischofswerda. Presumably it 
is not managing the hill; the car from Dresden broadcasting station recently 
turned back at the beginning of the incline, and I had to go up on foot. [. . .] 
Yesterday afternoon at 4, therefore, to the huge hall of the Sachsenverlag 
[Saxony publishing house], Riesaerstr., for the VVN founding meeting for 
Dresden district. At least 1500 people, perhaps more, there are more than 
3,000 Victims of Fascism in Dresden. The already familiar presentation of such 
meetings. We were guided right to the front. It was horribly cold, there was a 
draught from the stage with the chairman's table. I was called onto the platform. 


March 1947 


183 


Grosse 29 and Hilse the managers, Loewenkopf, Eva Schulze-Knabe, another 
couple of people. Very fine introductory music, Schubert's 'Unfinished', as in 
Berlin very fine homage to the dead - Egon Rentzsch spoke to the accom- 
paniment of quiet music, addresses by Kastner, now deputy prime minister, 
embarrassing pathos [. . .]; Koenen very interesting, comparing the Saxon con- 
stitution adopted yesterday to the tame Weimar one; Weimar was democratic; 
we are 'militantly democratic', guarding against the forces of reaction. No 
freedom for enemies of democracy! - Then it went wrong: E. Rentzsch's paper 
about Berlin became so unreasonably long, that the shivering audience began 
to leave. Finally someone shouted: 'Make it shorter, or the hall will be empty!' 
At that he finished. Now a management committee of 15 people was proposed, 
I was one of them. Usual unanimous adoption. Finally a choir sang 'The Moor 
Soldiers'. Via Loewenkopf who spoke briefly and again very well on behalf of 
the Jews - Grosse and Rentzsch had also stood up against anti-Semitism - once 
again desecration of graves at Weissensee! 30 - via Loewenkopf I put my France 
plan into circulation here, also made an effort to be a participant at the forth- 
coming VVN conferences in Frankfurt and Munich. Still uncertain. - 9.30 the 
car for Bischofswerda has not appeared. 

4 p.m. 

Then it came after all. [. . .] In Bischofswerda - little town of 10,000 (now 12,000) 
inhabitants, 2 large rectangular squares otherwise rows of houses on long bare 
streets - in a huge room in the House of the People a book exhibition, in a well- 
heated restaurant 47 people sitting at tables. I placed myself close to the stove 
and recited my LTI. 100M, a poor dinner, the definite promise to send me 
potatoes again at the end of the week, finally a swede and a couple of handfuls 
of potatoes - 'a dinner' - cadged from the hotelier and received as a present. 
[...] 


11th March , Tuesday morning 

[..•] 

Steininger visited us and showed me a printed (therefore sent to very many 
people) letter from a Hamburg carrier. Principal content: We regret that your 
Stockholm packet No 6 . . . has been stolen. Our storeroom is guarded, but 'we 
are powerless against large gangs armed with pistols'. Another carrier, Griinhut, 
Bremen, writes to me, that he has our Stockholm packet (of 31 October!) in 
store and it will go on to Berlin, 'as soon as the weather permits an escort of 
reliable customs officers'. I must indicate, how it should reach us from Berlin. 

Cold, pain, hunger, frost - that fills 95% of my thoughts and of the day. The 
inner vacillation between journalism and scholarship the remaining 5%. 


13th March, Thursday evening 

Here this afternoon from Falkenstein a pharmacist, Kizio, employed by Schemer. 
Schemer died on 7 March of pneumonia. [. . .] It weighs heavily on me. In a 


184 


The Lesser Evil 


very egoistical, otherwise unfeeling way: When will it be my turn? And what 
will become of Eva? [. . .] 

After the unprecedented famine of recent days, and after I had spent literally 
hours on the repeatedly failing telephone making SOS calls, there was a dramatic 
morning yesterday. First Frau Steininger brought a small portion of potatoes, 
then one of the Zabel twins appeared with 2 heavy bags; contents: a loaf, a 
larger quantity of potatoes and turnips, several tins of vegetables, plum spread, 
syrup, some sugar. Last came Frau Heinsch (her nails and lips thickly painted) 
on behalf of the Neuers - acquaintances and neighbours - with potatoes and 
some flour. In addition the Zabels and Neuer donated a couple of bottles of fruit 
drink. With that the most extreme shortage has been removed for a few days. 
But if the frost holds - it thaws during the day - at night the frost is still very 
hard - the shortage will return. [. . .] 

Yesterday and today I wrote Trench Poetry' for the Kulturbund broadcast. 


23rd March , Sunday forenoon etc. 

Berlin trip 19 and 20 March 47 

Kneschke telephoned on Monday, the journey to Berlin to negotiate a com- 
promise with refractory Leipzig would already take place on Wednesday. Depart- 
ure 6.30 in the morning, return journey Thurs. afternoon [. . .] I spent the two 
days until departure working intensely on the broadcast topics, which I wanted 
to speak on tape in Berlin, and indeed managed them all by Tuesday night. 
(These 4 variations and compressions of earlier work: The Marriage of Figaro; 
French Poetry; Politics and Writing; Humanism , Humanity and Humanism Again 
have taken up the whole week.) 

Meanwhile the weather had changed quite programmatically from the most 
typical winter with snow and ice to early spring, again typical. Melting snow, 
rain, ice, mud, flood, fog. 

On Tues. evening the whole trip was thrown into doubt: a permit now 
necessary to enter Berlin had not yet been obtained. Wed. morning (the 19th) 
passed with waiting in filthy weather. [. . .] We (Kneschke, myself, Schumann, 
the Kulturbund driver) did not get away from Dresden until after 12. [. . .] We 
were in Schluterstr. at about 5. A car from the Berlin Kulturbund was waiting 
for us in Potsdam, the Leipzigers had been waiting at Jagerstr. since forenoon. - 
We drove there and met Becher, Willmann, Gadamer and Engewald, a bookseller 
in his early 50s. Everything [. . .] had already been settled amicably: henceforth 
the Leipzigers will pay dues to Berlin like every other local group, they will have 
a place on and recognise the management committee for Saxony in Dresden. 
[. . .] There really only remained - but this was important - a discussion, a kind 
of reconciliation of a personal kind. I said: we Dresdeners were a little sensitive, 
I recalled the tension between Leipzig University and the Cultural Sciences 
Department [at Dresden TH]. 31 Gadamer was friendly as shit, I was, too - 
outwardly and for the moment there was friendship. During the negotiation 


March 1947 


185 


there was a good meal, with the addition of a bowl of soup for us famished 
Dresdeners. [. . .] 

On Friday 22, proper early spring day with rain and wind and snowdrops and 
first tinge of green on the trees, at the TH in the morning. Walk there not quite 
as tiring as usual, but still painful, came back very slowly but without pain. In 
the autumn the Educ. Faculty is to start working normally, and I am to start 
training teachers normally. Recently a warning shot: the Russians are demanding 
a teaching plan according to which I have to give 8 lectures a semester on Lit. 
Hist, and prosody and historical grammar. I said to myself: if I must, then rather 
in Greifswald. Now I have heard from Straub: it's not as bad as that. I can leave 
historical grammar to a teacher, who will be specially engaged for 'Methodology 
of Teaching French'. Nevertheless [. . .] from the winter semester on my complete 
freedom to write and to give talks is over and from Whitsun I already have to 
give 4 lectures on the 18ieme. Once again: if I am to be restricted by academic 
tasks, then perhaps rather in Greifswald. 

[...] 

On Saturday I prepared my 'address' for the first anniversary celebration of 
the Kulturbund. I kept closely to the concert programme. 1) Prokofiev, 2) 
Debussy, L'apres-midi d'un faune, 3) Beethoven's 7th Symphony. I was to speak 
between 2 and 3. I started from Mallarme's poem ['Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un 
faune']. Parallels to the situation of the KB and model. Intellectual ascent, link 
to other countries. Link to Germany's true friend, to the true torch-bearer of 
culture: Russia, Prokofiev. Appeal to Moscow for German unity, Germany whole: 
Beethoven! The sketch was really good - and the evening turned out a very 
serious failure. Kurhaus Biihlau, 22 March, 6 p.m. Most dreadful rainy weather, 
the huge shed f full. Ministry, authorities not represented, front rows almost 
empty. When I come to the Russian passage, demonstration. Coughing, scrap- 
ing, laughing, noises. Shouts: Cheek! Don't interrupt! I talked over it all, loudly, 
calmly, for about 15 minutes. At the Germany conclusion it grew quiet, applause 
at the end. I noticed no agitation. But I developed pains, and when I walked 
back to my seat, I had a proper attack of angina for several minutes, a serious 
memento. Then Keilberth conducted the symphony, it was played with passion, 
and it got thunderous repeated applause, which was an unmistakable con- 
tinuation of the demonstration. It meant: No Kulturbund policies, no Jewish 
Bolshevism, but Beethoven and our [. . .] Keilberth! What riled me most, was 
that in the discussion of the situation Kneschke and Eva Blank did say, that 
perhaps I had been too radical. Always the fear of showing one's colours. Always 
the democratic meekness of 1919. [. . .] 


28th March, Friday evening 

On Mond. afternoon meeting of the regional committee of the Kulturbund at 
Emser Allee. Menke-Gliickert chaired. So thin and pale, after a recent illness, 
that I felt sorry for him. Kneschke reported on Berlin. [. . .] On every side some 
firm voices against the demonstration during the anniversary celebration. Egon 
Rentzsch had telephoned me about it the day before, definitely adopting a more 


186 


The Lesser Evil 


drastic tone. - All of today taken up with the KB. 'Area Conference' in the 
Academy from 9.30-4 p.m. ; with a (meagre) dinner together in the refectory. 
[. . .] I [. . .] spoke about the work of the Literature Section. 'De-Nazification of 
German Literature. They have appropriated Schiller, Herder etc. Even Nietzsche 
belongs to them only in part . . .' I was elected onto the area committee. I am 
to give lectures in various places again. On the whole the day passed with empty 
talk. [. . .] 

Work: I began the 'Culture' pamphlet on 25 March. 32 On 2-3 printed sheets 
it must condense and formulate the various themes I have talked about dozens 
of times since summer 45. 1 have run my legs off with these things, I am fed up 
to the back teeth with them, and yet I find the task so very hard. 

In addition France reading: Salacrou: 33 [. . .] Saint-Exupery: the flying book. 34 
At length a little too refined for me. I want to start a special folder for all of 
that. 


29th March, Saturday evening 

After lunch today I spoke from about 3-4.15 in Gorlitz, in the assembly hall of 
the former classical grammar school on culture ('democratic cultural policy') 
[...]. About 150 present, teachers - an outstanding success. I had to say, whether 
I had published or would publish any of it, referred to the forthcoming pamphlet 
and to the LTI. [. . .] I should speak there again as soon as possible . . . The success 
and the 120M were not the important thing about this trip. Nor that I saw the 
German border - we drove to the Neisse. The silent (abandoned) row of houses 
on the river bank of this insignificant river already belongs to Poland. Over the 
bridge, upriver, there is a tall shed, painted like a sentry box, Russian sentries 
in front of it [...]. Important was the provisioning in Piskowitz. Hahnewald 
drove with us, FDGB [Free German Trades Union Alliance] official, 49-year- 
old, originally a draughtsman, manner of a primary school teacher. He came 
punctually at 9 and at 1 1 we dropped off E. at the land girls' camp in Piskowitz. 
[. . .] Back in Piskowitz [from Gorlitz] shortly after 6. Coffee and pancakes for 
everyone. And E. had amassed a cwt of potatoes, a little sack of swedes, a round 
85 lb loaf, some curd, butter, syrup, a couple of pancakes. But now the driver 
declared, his tyres would not take the weight. I decided [. . .] to leave E. in 
Piskowitz. She likes to be there and can rest a little. There is no train on Sunday. 
Perhaps Eva Biittner will drive to Dresden at the beginning of the week. I advised 
E. to take her time. - At the last moment I came within an inch of losing the 
loot. I had fallen asleep. We stop just before Biihlau. A policewoman, coming 
up to the car: 'You can drive on, you've just been inspected haven't you?' - Yes, 
says the driver and continues. - 'Did I sleep through a checkpoint?' - 'A minute 
ago a policeman shouted "halt", but I was already past him and accelerated. It 
would have been a waste of the potatoes. They confiscate everything.' By then 
we were already in Dresden. Home at 10 p.m. 

[...] 

Everywhere on the road carts: handcarts, horse-drawn carts, whole convoys 


April 1947 


187 


of carts drawn by heavy tractors. Everywhere in the woods the felling of trees. 
On all sides complaints about woodland being laid waste. [. . .] 


30th March , Sunday midnight 

A day without Eva is a long one. 

I managed more than 2 pages of 'Culture' even though there were visitors 
both morning and afternoon. [. . .] 

In the afternoon Lotte Kreisler and her elderly husband. They brought their 
own bread, we gossiped cheerfully over coffee. She showed me a printed concert 
programme from 1940 in which Laux, comrade and Assistant Secretary Laux 
writes quite repulsively about the half-Jew Hanslick, 35 'the evil spirit of negation', 
the 'fierce enemy of Richard Wagner', and who had vituperated against Bruckner. 
And now, 'in June 37 in the presence of the Fuhrer the Bruckner bust had been 
unveiled in the Valhalla'. 36 Embarrassing. They are none of them innocent. [. . .] 


31st March , Monday evening 

Unexpectedly E. already came back this evening. On foot from Piskowitz to 
Kamenz, to Eva Biittner, from whom she received an official rail pass. 

In the morning at the TH a very drastic change in my situation. I brought 
the required completed timetable for 6+2 teacher-training lectures per session 
and the request for the re-appointment of Irene Papesch. That is what had been 
agreed. From October we were to be fully responsible for the training of all 
teachers, from Whitsun I was to lecture, optionally at first, on my 18ieme. - 
Yesterday a supreme decision overturning everything came from Russian head- 
quarters in Karlshorst: sharpest possible separation of TH and university. Here 
only technicians, vocational teachers and natural scientists will be trained, all 
educational-historical chairs (German excepted) wound up. Thus I am left 
hanging in the air. Greifswald possibly essential. 

[...] 

In the afternoon visit by Frau Hoppe-Freund (after having long borne a 
grudge). Loewenkopf sent word, I can come to the Dachau meeting on 8 May. 


2nd April , Wednesday evening 

Telegram from Greifswald. Rector 'appoints me professor', requests me to go 
there - 'official trip' - for discussion. 

[..J 

In the afternoon at Melanchthonstr. Long SED session. Should the opera 
house be blown up or renovated or how should it be replaced? 37 Passionate 
discussion. Gute gave a paper about opera and opera houses, in which in his 
usual way he emphasised exclusively the political-social element. (New to 
me: boxes point to courtly coterie diplomacy.) Several architects for a radical 
demolition of the ruin; Gute wants to have a palace for people's opera and 
people's cinema there. The conservative opposition wants to preserve 'the 


188 


The Lesser Evil 


townscape': the loss of the opera would destroy the whole square. Dolitzsch in 
a passionate speech: 'Don't say, one is a bad Socialist, if one has conservative 
views on this subject. And show consideration for the people of Dresden, who 
are 95% in favour of preservation.' Interruption: '95% also voted for Hitler!' 
Mayor Wagner, who is in charge of food: defer the question for a few months! 
We're starving, there's no time for art. - Comrade Schon: we have to clarify it; 
in the city council the LDP is moving that 250,000M be set aside to 'safeguard 
the structure'. 

[...] 


3rd April , Thursday evening 

[..•] 

Highlight of the day: Late in the evening, quite unexpectedly a Russian Easter 
packet brought by a chauffeur. Plenty of butter, white flour, herrings, potatoes, 
tinned meat, sugar, jam, brawn, 100 cigarettes. - We were as happy as children. 


6th April , Easter Sunday evening 

[...] 

On Friday 4 April at Melanchthonstr. in the morning. Victims of Nazism 
meeting: Buchenwald. Statements by individuals with ghastly details. Then 
Mauthner: precise details. Such and such facts suitable as propaganda. Slipped 
in as unannounced surprise broadcasts - that way the public is forced to listen. 
[...] 

Second proofs of LTI arrived at last. I am working on them - the pamphlet is 
at a standstill. 

[...] 


12th April , Saturday evening 

Yesterday long session at the Kulturbund. From 10.30 a.m. until almost 6 p.m. 
Preparing the regional conference in Chemnitz, where the regional management 
committee is to be elected. By arguing for Renn, 38 I avoided Gadamer, who 
nevertheless cannot be neutralised. [. . .] 

Lotte Sussman - with us until Monday - then starts at Lobtau Hospital - a 
firm believer. [. . .] Apart from that she is sensible, unaffected and educated. [. . .] 


14th April , Monday evening 

In the afternoon in the broadcasting studio of the Hygiene Museum an SED 
recruitment event, works committee of the Saxon administration. About 500 
people, concert by Keilberth, readings, address Prof Dr Klemperer. Some vari- 
ation on the usual, applause. It does not satisfy me at all any more. Yet it gave 
me palpitations and aches. [. . .] 


April 1947 


189 


Then taken by car to the Saxon administration. Talk with Gute and Simon. 
New situation, like a blow to my head: Jan goes to Jena, Werner Krauss already 
appointed in his place. That is what the Central Administration in Berlin had 
wanted. Krauss was a gain from the West, the first one, and was younger than 
I, who was of retirement age. I am being allowed a free choice between retirement 
here (which Gute advises) and acceptance in Greifswald. One other person has 
been called to a chair in Leipzig: Kuhn. What a farce! There wasn't anyone else, 
he had retracted his pamphlet, was 'not really Nazi' - a few real Nazis had also 
had to be put up with. We were depopulated, half of Leipzig was threatening to 
go off to the West. 


16th April , Wednesday evening 

The serious ill-humour at Leipzig almost overcome. But in the afternoon on the 
wireless a big rigmarole about the de-Nazification and democratisation of the 
universities, and just now in the news, Leipzig Univ. has gained scholars with 
international reputations. Among them: Professor Johannes Kuhn from 
Dresden. It did after all upset me badly again. 

[...] 

Continuing vacillation with respect to Greifswald. 


1 7th April, Thursday evening 

In the morning at the Tonhalle from 1 1-1 opening of the Art Academy and of 
the High School for Arts and Crafts (Grundig and Grohmann). The usual. 
Keilberth rampaged again with the orchestra. Hindemith, Maler Mathis. [. . .] 
Speeches. Gute, Buchwitz etc. I showed my face and shook hands with prom- 
inent persons. Donath beside me. He said, the Kuhn affair had been settled 
between Gute and Simon alone and would cause a scandal yet. I gave notice 
that I would protest to the Party. 

In the evening Wolff drove me to a district meeting of the Victims of Nazism 
on Hohe Stein. Beautiful spring evening and a grand sunset. Excellent robust 
provocative talk by the comrade on the district committee: Grundt. He several 
times pointed to the recent demonstration against me in Biihlau. [. . .] At my 
table the Steiningers. I also spoke to Werner Lang, who looks in the best of 
spirits and (as once before) was sitting beside a wild red-haired Jew. Edmund 
Muller. Suddenly it dawned on me: he must be the brother of the tragic Stephan - 
Gestapomiiller. 39 8 people had to be elected for the local groups as a management 
committee; there were 10 names on the ballot paper. I did not put a cross at the 
names of Werner Lang and Edmund Muller. On the last lap of the Culture 
pamphlet. 

[...] 


190 


The Lesser Evil 


21st April, 11 p.m. Monday evening 

Back from Meissen. Very nice springtime drive there at 6.30. Kulturbund lecture 
Zola-Barbusse prepared yesterday. From my own Lit. Hist, with remarks from 
my present position. (Taine 40 - Marx: Socialism and Materialism. Marx the 
idealist!) Much applause. [. . .] 

Today, during the day, the culture pamphlet. 

Letter from Frank Forbrig in Greifswald. Jacoby says, he will satisfy me domes- 
tically, but expects the scholar and teacher - the politician 'only fifth'. 

[..J 


29th April , Tuesday after supper 

[...) 

So Chemnitz [KB regional conference]. Saturday and Sunday, 26 and 27 April. 
About 200 people there, about 190 were eligible to vote, 188 did so. I am in 4th 
place with 172 votes. Ahead of me, apart from Renn (elected by acclamation), 
Gadamer and Griiss, the rector of Freiberg Mining Academy, and quite unknown 
to me, CDU. Gadamer 180, Griiss 174, myself 172 votes. I must, perhaps I 
should, be pleased. The Leipzigers no doubt voted against me. [. . .] 

(2 May) Most interesting about the whole thing was the journey there and 
back with Renn, who picked me up here. Thin blond man, fairly bald, decent, 
unaffected appearance and manner, 58. A little amusing, the way they turned 
him into a very big shot here (counterpart to Becher), and how he gets the 
regional chairmanship as 'above party' (after the ousting of Menke-Gliickert.) 
Confidently talkative. Less a writer than a semi-scholar. He talked about his 
autobiography Aristocracy in Decline [. . .] about a book on primitive cults ( Vom 
Affen zutn Menschen - From Ape to Man) [...]. Something else affected me more. 
He says it is vouched for and very well known abroad, that Dresden was 
destroyed by the English and Americans against Russian objections, and only 
because they did not want the Russians to have the city. 41 [. . .] 

The Chemnitz meeting took place in the hall of an insurance company. [. . .] 
Boring. Debates as usual without content, [people talking] past one another. 
Longest, far too long speech by Abusch. Semper idem . . . Over lunch in the 
ratskeller discussion with Abusch and Gysi. They attacked my traits eternels 42 
in 'German Roots' [in LTI]. That will possibly turn into a 'debate' for the Berlin 
Broadcasting Station. On 12 May I am to speak on the LTI in Jagerstr [in Berlin]. 
For the night to the Chemnitzer Hof, elegant, well-preserved hotel at the main 
railway station (hot water!) Russian billet and its function rooms out of bounds 
to the conquered. A number of us stood around thirsty in the lobby. Volske, the 
Chemnitz Kulturbund director with the strong Berlin accent, invited us to his 
apartment, in which the Kneschkes and little Arnold were quartered. The man 
has several elegantly furnished rooms in the house of a furniture dealer. Up 
there we chatted over tea and cognac. As already over the meal Gadamer and I 
talked informally, innocuously and both as friendly as shit, I chatted with 
Volwahsen [. . .] etc. [. . .] To bed at 12, up early on Sunday. Unpleasant start to 
the day: I met Eva Blank, and we went, as we had been directed, to the canteen 


May 1947 


191 


next to the hotel. There the German waiters, not brutally but nevertheless 
firmly showed us the door - the premises were only for Russian officers, it would 
be awkward for us if we stayed. It then turned out, that we got our breakfast in 
another hotel. After that another trying session, in the morning and in the 
afternoon the election. [. . .] 


2nd May , towards evening 

At last made the final correction to the 'culture pamphlet'. I have been working 
on it since 25 March, and I am not quite satisfied with it. But how many 
distractions! 

[...] 

Then yesterday 1 May something completely new. Popular orator! Drive [. . .] 
through half of Saxony: Meissen-Dobeln-Hartha-Mittweida-Bur^sftidf. [. . .] A 
wild driver, carpenter from Dolzschen, who knew all the circumstances up here 
and our own story. [. . .] When we arrived at 10, zealous welcomes were already 
being spoken. Or rather shouted. Beside the orator a loudspeaker. Announce- 
ment: Now we have the principal speaker Professor Kemperer (sic) from Dresden. 
A moment of emptiness in me, then I started shouting. Beside me IT, the 
megaphone, roared and reverberated. [. . .] A primitive business, this speaking 
in the open air. 

Now I am to speak on the 'Day of the Book Burning' a week on Sunday. 43 
Twice. In the museum, Diirerstr., and in the evening in Freital. A version of the 
speech is to be broadcast in advance. 

I am squandering myself, I think: I must go to Greifswald. We talk about the 
pros and cons of it x times a day; my heart is very heavy. Eva is clearly for 
staying, only does not want to inhibit me. I am attracted by the new, I am 
haunted by the thought of being laid up here as a pensioner. 

Now for days I have to dispose of the private and official arrears of cor- 
respondence that have been piling up. Today decent Flamensbeck from Unter- 
bernsbach asked me for an exonerating testimonial for the de-Nazification 
tribunal. 44 1 can commend him, cf LTI, penultimate page - but I cannot 'exon- 
erate' him. 

[...] 

Mimesis by Erich Auerbach, 45 which on Vossler's recommendation I requested 
from Francke [publishers] in Bern, arrived by way of a private person in Kon- 
stanz. [. . .] 

[••.] 

Better diet with a constant stream of packets. 


4th May , Sunday forenoon 

My self-confidence badly shaken by Auerbach's overpoweringly good Mimesis. 
(Read the first 50 pages yesterday between deadly private letters.) He knows 
Latin, Mediaeval Latin, Old French, Hebrew - he is a philologist. What would I 
have been able to achieve, if I possessed such resources. Suddenly I am shaken 


192 


The Lesser Evil 


by fear that I could disgrace myself in Greifswald. Veteres angustiae redivivae. 45a 
Should I allow myself to be pensioned off after all? But then here I am a clown 
of all trades, a soon-used-up locally important person and always overshadowed 
and disdained by Leipzig. 

[...] 

Very depressed. 


7th May ; Wednesday towards evening 

Yesterday E. made a public appearance, accompanied the tall Stephan-Hamann 
in a Schubert evening in Freital, then herself played the Wanderer Fantasie. It 
gave her evident pleasure. She is at once far more talented and far less vain than 
I. 

For my part I cannot get over the defeat with respect to Leipzig. On top of 
that the terrible uncertainty of my financial situation here. It will no doubt be 
Greifswald - 1 am now considering leaving E. here and living there alone. It will 
only be for a few semesters. 

[...] 

Reading Mimesis. 


11th May , Sunday 

The Day of the Burning of Books, 10 May 33. Big propaganda affair. I spoke 3x. 
Yesterday afternoon at the Dresden Broadcasting Station [...]- during the actual 
broadcast my part was read. This afternoon to a good 90 people at the Arts and 
Crafts Museum, this evening to about 60 in Freital. Very great success. 

[...] 

Yesterday afternoon from the broadcasting station to Loschwitz - spring, 
suspension railway, Hermann Prellstr. There in a villa with a most beautiful 
distant view [. . .] the cultural research institute of the TH was officially opened. 
Directors: Professor Ludwig Renn and Spamer. I suggested, that I might have 
something to fall back on there. Renn, who is on first name terms with me, 
enthused, Gute in favour of course - but would that be security? [. . .] 


15th May Thursday forenoon 
Berlin trip 12th-14th May 1947 

The book [a ringbinder VK now used for his diary] is a present from Doris and 
Mackie. And the beginning is perhaps really a 'historic moment' for me, a 
caesura. If the Berlin guest professorship comes to pass, if . . . 

[..J 

On Sunday all hopes of a journey by car came to nothing. Left early on 
Monday morning at 6.15, difficult upsetting fight for the overcrowded tram, 
my heart affected. On the train I found a seat and quiet. A couple of pages Werner 
Krauss PIN. 46 What duplication: PLN-LTI. [. . .] At Aufbauverlag, Franzosische 
Strasse at 3. Wilhelm's successor Wendt, 47 no longer young man, very nice. He 


May 1947 


193 


was not entirely in the picture, I once again summarised my plan for the Lit. 
Hist. He will give me a definite decision in two weeks; I really do believe that 
my 19th and 20th Century will be to his liking. He wants 'humanism' at a high 
level, but not philology. As a present I received 1,000 sheets of typing paper (a 
blessing!) and a packet of cigarettes. - LTI will come out at the end of June, 
1,000 copies, price 5M [. . .]; a second edition in winter. No cause for vanity in 
that; 'the booksellers buy any rubbish and pay in advance, just to have some- 
thing at all'. 

By the time I got to Wendt I was exhausted and had very bad pains - the 
short stretch from Jagerstr., but immediately after eating, and I was worn out 
already - he gave me a car, which took me to Neues Leben [New Life], Kronenstr., 
and from there back to the club. Neues Leben, i.e. the periodical of the FDJ, the 
Communist Youth organisation and its pamphlet publishing arm. Schlesinger, 
a friendly man, mid-40s, its head - an intellectual, presumably Jewish. [. . .] 

(24 May. Now everything has been overlaid by what came later, I am recon- 
structing with difficulty.) From Schlesinger I presumably drove to the club, 
where my LTI lecture was set for 6 p.m. Brugsch, the good-looking and engaging, 
somewhat garrulous old gentleman, doctor, wanted to have particulars for the 
introduction. Which he then delivered fairly feebly. The Klemperers Georg and 
Felix with their hospitals and their literary talent. Now Victor, admittedly not 
a doctor, but also with literary talent(!). A book on Montesquieu, a history of 
French literature. Now LTI . . . There were less than 75 people there, and I rattled 
off my piece. Much applause. The discussion consisted of additional examples, 
was in no way hostile. Schottlander 48 (who is getting the Dresden chair) asked, 
to what extent the LTI expressions were invented by the Nazis and used by 
them alone. I gave a detailed answer to that and several other questions. [. . .] 
At Kahane's prompting I was driven to Niederschonhausen after the lecture. 
Mackie [. . .] was on night duty and did not come until almost 1. So it grew late. 
But on Tue. the 13th I woke up very early, felt fresh and, sitting on the bed, 
noted down a few points for the Becher wireless birthday congratulations. In 
the morning the news agency car brought me to the broadcasting building. 
Made the acquaintance of Dr Demi and Frau Jung [...]. 

I spoke the Becher congratulation haltingly. For a moment I wanted to 
abandon it; but Demi whispered to me, it would turn out well, it could be 
touched up on tape. I then listened to what I had said; despite or because of the 
pauses it really was good. Afterwards I agreed 4 pieces of work with Demi: two 
of 14 minutes for 200M each about the People's High School and about France 
and two 9 minute ones for 150 each about Petrarch and about Voltaire. 

It was now almost 1 p.m.; I skipped dinner and went (by underground) to 
the Central Administration in Wilhelmstr. I finally met Rompe, also spoke to 
Bohm, Heise (and last I met Lange in the Adlon). [. . .] 

To Anny Kl. Warm welcome. Peter present. Today, the Saturday before 
Whitsun, he has gone to the FDJ meeting in Meissen. [. . .] Finally back to the 
Kahanes (underground). - All day they had been trying to arrange my return 
journey. [. . . But] Schlesinger had offered me a seat in his car [...]. I chose the 
car. It fetched me punctually at 6.15 a.m., was supposed to be in Dresden at 


194 


The Lesser Evil 


about 11 a.m. ... At 5 p.m. it had its 5th and final tube problem. Until then 
repeated rests at the forest edge of the motorway. Now tube gum and good 
cheer were at an end. We spent about a quarter of an hour outside Ortrand, 
less than 20 miles from Dresden. We hoped for galvanisation in the village. 
Impossible. There was no train until 8 the next morning. A coal convoy came 
up, tractor and 3 waggons with briquettes. Potato-foraging women were taken 
along. They were standing waiting in little groups all along the road. I climbed 
up, sat on the cardboard box with potatoes, which the Kahanes had given me. 
It rained, thundered, poured. The convoy went about as far as the terminus of 
the 19 tram. Afterwards I had to get up the hill with the heavy baggage. Home 
at 11 p.m. very exhausted, very wet, with many pains. 

The next day very wretched and depressed, very unwisely on the trip to 
Dachau. 


15th-19th May ; VVN [Victims of Nazi Persecution] Trip Dresden- 
Munich/Dachau 

Actual congress 17th, 18th May 47 

We met at 3 p.m. at Bautzenerstr. 23 delegates from Saxony. Hilse and Loew- 
enkopf as leaders of the delegation, Schrecker as journalist. - Left Neustadter 
station at 5 p.m. Fast train, 2nd class, very comfortable and restful. At 10 p.m. 
in Plauen. Waiting room. A meat broth. Waited until 1. Then a coal train. 
Baggage van. Stops after a short time; stops again and again. The fuel is supposed 
to be to blame. Everybody out! Burning coals are dropping under the engine. 
La Lison! 49 Wait for a later goods train! It comes at about 2.30, and at 4.30 it 
reaches Gutenfurst, the Soviet border station given on our zonal pass. Check 
without any bother. A tiny strip of no man's land. Then Feilitzsch the USA 
border point. The confiscated bottle of wine, the impounded Gorky. 50 This part 
we travelled on the once-more-functioning coal train. Then we found a goods 
train, which for an extra charge got us to Hof at 8.50. On from here at 9.15 in 
a goods train which took us towards Munich by way of a long detour. At 1 1 in 
Lichtenfels. 4 hour break. Two plates of soup to be had in a restaurant. At last a 
limited stop train: Donauworth, Niirnberg, Augsburg. In Munich at 10 in the 
evening, i.e. after 30 hours. It could have been worse, we had to reckon on not 
arriving in Munich until the following morning. A few minutes made all the 
difference. (The incalculability of the border stops and therefore of 
connections.) - On the way friendly impassioned arguments with Schrecker; I 
gave him my VVN article in the Sonntag newspaper to read; he was furious at 
me, because I had spoken of a German anti-Fascist 'movement' and of the 'other 
Germany'. (Which then at the congress everyone did.) [. . .] In Munich from the 
station to the VVN office in Goethestr. Very bad pains. There they (and 
Schrecker) took care of me. Car to the Hotel Burghof on Marienplatz. Choice 
accommodation. Schrecker (moved out the next day) in the room next to me. 
He had real coffee with him, had it made for us. Restorative night. - This day 
of rest, 16 May, had been our wedding day. I only remembered on Saturday, the 
17th, when I hoped to lay hands on E.'s compositions and experienced such a 


May 1947 


195 


severe disappointment. I already had the telegram in my head [. . .] On Sch- 
recker's advice I presented myself autocratically at the Goethestr. office as a 
person of importance, whereupon one of the still-very-elegant Munich taxis 
was put at my disposal. We first drove to the Stlihlers. A long way out, near 
Nymphenburg Palace, Carl Schurzstr., very warm welcome. (I helped them get 
an attestation that Bernhard had worn the Jew's star. The Americans had not 
believed them, which is why the planned emigration had thus far come to 
nothing.) They had collected the things deposited with Landsdorfer, the baker, 
and will send them to Berlin. (It is still not possible to do so to Dresden.) They 
had not yet received the packet of sheet music from R[. . .] and feared it had 
been sold off illicitly. I packed in the Stlihlers, and we drove to R[. . .]. Another 
suburb (where?) [...]. I did not know the man, had only seen him once beside 
cemetery-Jacobi in Dresden. His landlady said he was out, but mentioned a 
restaurant in town, where he usually eats. We really did find him there, an 
altogether likeable-looking man, blond, slim, calm, almost distinguished. No - 
he had never fetched the things from the hostel - Yes, he had received the letter 
from me back then. He would come with us. We drove to St Martin's Hostel. 51 
There everything as it was 2 years ago. Statement: the packet had been handed 
over, since the person - unknown - calling for it had presented my handwritten 
letter, there was no receipt, R. himself had not fetched it. - I took R. aside, told 
him: I was not out for revenge, if he only got the sheet music back to me, I 
would leave him in peace, give away nothing, but otherwise I would report him 
to the police. He insisted, that he had not fetched the packet, nor had it fetched. 

I let him go and with the Stlihlers drove to police headquarters, where I laid a 
charge against R. for misappropriation. The police officer shrugged his shoulders, 
evidently considered it a hopeless case. - Since then I have not had a peaceful 
day. I felt every success to be an injustice to E., who has now lost everything, 
the compositions after the pictures and the architectural drawings. She is so 
infinitely more talented, and nothing of her remains. I feel somehow guilty . . . 
At her request I sent an urgent telegram from here promising a 'large reward' 
for R [...], if he procures the sheet music. E. says, I should have done it 
immediately; now under the pressure of the criminal charge, he has certainly 
burned the sheets. Also in the packet were two woollen dresses and underwear 
. . . From then on the whole trip was soured for me. 

[...] 

From police headquarters I had myself driven to the 'big canteen', a food 
shed, not far from the Ostbahnhof station, where the general feedings took 
place in a fairly charmless Bavarian barracks manner. [. . .] From there (by 
bus? details are already becoming blurred) to the Prinzregententheater, whose 
impressive auditorium I remembered, and which did not disappoint me. The 
State Commissioner for the Racially Persecuted, Dr Philipp Auerbach, huge 
man, very fat, his neck unduly swollen (somehow sickly), little piggy eyes in a 
plump, bulky head, very forceful on his frequent appearances, altogether fiercely 
anti-Nazi and fierce in his opposition to Bavarian domestic politics - but exceed- 
ingly nervous at mention of Russia and the SED. He was the only government 
man to appear, the prime minister sent his apologies. The whole congress was 


196 


The Lesser Evil 


ignored as far as possible - one did not want to be reminded. So Auerbach 
delivered the words of welcome. 52 Afterwards Verdi's Requiem was played by a 
large orchestra (conductor Georg Solti). 53 Some of it I immediately found beau- 
tiful - but on the whole my mind wandered. 

Now the majority of the 1000 participants moved off to the big canteen again, 
to which I also had my invitation. But I was passed word: the delegates were 
eating in the Spatenbrau, and I was taken there. There and then Auerbach wrote 
a special instruction for myself and x others on some bit of paper. Perhaps 100 
of the 1000 participants were present here. Chosen according to what principle? 
Who was a celebrity here? Indecent gluttony. [. . .] 

Sunday the 18th. Breakfast in the hotel, Loewenkopf picked me up by car, 
then to the Deutsches Museum, where from 8 a.m. the actual congress itself got 
into its swing. [. . .] Semper idem - it's easy for politicians, they repeat themselves 
x times over. Except that here everything sounded angrier and more bitter than 
in Berlin. To be remembered: Bishop Kaes with the black ear muffs on his plump 
grey head, with his 'Rhenish heart' and prayer to God for the soul of the 
Communist friend who saved his life; the strong Berlin accent of the quite 
unsanctimonious Provost Gruber 54 ('We are here!' - 'Whoever abuses a Jew, 
abuses us all'), Jeanette Schulz, the LDP city councillor from Berlin: 'The foreign 
diplomats who negotiated with Hitler are also guilty' - characteristic that this 
got the loudest applause - but was that not in the afternoon in Dachau?? 

[...] 

Demands: [. . .] Away with Nazi lawyers. Schools! [. . .] No posts to be held for 
persons still to be de-Nazified. Take the offensive! 

I want to incorporate the afternoon in Dachau town hall here. First there was 
a press conference. The press people sat round a long table and were supposed 
to ask questions, but asked very little. We stood and crowded round them. 
Interesting was only a report on the Siemens company. The management was 
guilty, it had requested people from the camps, it had handed over worn-out 
people to the death camps, it had wanted to move parts of its plants into the 
camps themselves . . . Immediately following that the 'Parliament of Resistance' 
itself. Large hall, packed. Auerbach opened. Indignation, that the town of 
Dachau had not put out the flags, that they wanted to be indifferent. But then 
when Dr Katholitzky, of the Sachsenverlag publishing house in Dippoldiswalde, 
editor or the like, spoke about working-class unity and no more than hinted at 
the SED, Auerbach became nervous, interrupted, that was not allowed, we were 
above party . . . And when Cohn, the public prosecutor, came back to it, saying 
it was part of VVN business, he was literally silenced by A. Very restless divided 
mood. A wordy, excessively long and unclear resolution, finally as reconciliation 
the common [Socialist] song: 'Bruder zur Sonne' - Brothers to the Sun. 

So from the Deutsches Museum I drove with Loewenkopf and Jolles to the 
Jewish restaurant in Baader Str. Banner on the wall with Hebrew words (meaning: 
Welcome to Children of Israel), pictures of Herzl, Buber 55 etc. Good meal without 
coupons for 50M. I was a guest therefore. Then, after 1 they drove me to the 
Maximilianeum, but unfortunately stopped on the ramp side. I should have 
had half an hour for Vossler, wandered, with extremely severe pains - heart and 


May 1947 


197 


spine, right round the walled building one and a half times, before I found the 
entrance beyond the police guard. Thus I had only 9 minutes left for the visit. 
The Vossler household. She warm and almost youthful. He considerably aged, 
incomparably more senile than in 1945. Pathologically thin, indistinct hissing 
voice, damaged dentures. Yet displaying the greatest warmth and evident pleas- 
ure at my visit. [. . .] He insisted on accompanying me downstairs and around 
the outer wall to the car - very slowly. 

That made me late, Jolles was evidently offended and asserted that he had to 
get back to town earlier in the afternoon than I did. I felt embarrassed. But in 
the evening we ran into one another in front of the porter's lodge of our hotel, 
chatted amicably and parted as good friends. - The car then took us to Dachau, 
the ceremony at the cemetery had already begun. A field with a company of 
identical crosses in ranks. On a higher piece of ground, a circle of people around 
it, there was a flame in a candelabrum holder, and a preaching voice. Individual 
customary words. The prayers for the dead will be spoken by clergymen of the 
3 denominations/ stated the programme. Few people, little interest, very matter- 
of-fact mood. Then we were told we could either visit the camp or go to the 
press conference. Unfortunately I chose the town hall. I saw just as little of the 
actual camp as in 1945 ... [. . .] 


20-23 May , National Congress and Election of the Executive 
Committee [of the Kulturbund] in Berlin 

[. . .] About 175 people, of these, 153 delegates voted. Klaus Gysi got the largest 
number of votes 140, myself with 106 was 24th out of 30 [committee members] 
[. . .] Gadamer with 53 votes has not been elected. What made me even more 
cheerful, was the fact that he was on the executive committee of this congress. 
Among those elected are Stroux, Meusel 56 (whom I still do not know personally), 
Paul Wandel, Wiegler, Anna Seghers, 57 grey-haired somewhat Chinese-looking, 
of course Abusch, Willmann, Friedensburg ... [. . .] 

The main feature of the forenoon of Tuesday the 20th was a long and clear 
speech by Becher. He summed up everything he had often already said about 
the character and task and position of the KB. Excessively conciliatory and soft 
towards pgs, above all very emphatically for the Russians. Here he said exactly, 
point for point and almost word for word, what I had said on the Dresden 
anniversary of the KB in Btihlau and paid for with an anti-Russian dem- 
onstration. And finally he spoke for innocent youth. He got tremendous 
applause and was elected president by a show of hands. After lunch I asked 
leave to speak and underlined the 'patience with young people', underlined 
how necessary it is to refute Nazism to them [...]. 

Now when was that during these two days Tue. and Wed.? [. . .] And at some 
point I dictated an article about Munich to a typist at the AD N [news agency] 
who took it down in shorthand. ADN wanted it as material, it was supposed to 
serve me as an aide-memoire - later Kahane found that it was a fully formed 
article, and at the broadcasting station they thought it was exactly the right 
length to be broadcast. 


198 


The Lesser Evil 


[. . .] On Wednesday - report on activities by Willmann, a speech by Tulpanov - 
I was not much in the hall. I sought out the publishers Volk und Welt in a very 
badly damaged building on Taubenstr. Tschesno, 58 a blond young man, Frau 
Graf his colleague or senior employee. I elaborated my plan: 10 weeks with E. 
in France. History of the Resistance, lectures, my Lit. Hist, up to 45. He says: it 
would be no problem for him to obtain the money (the foreign currency) and 
an official invitation for me - he feared only friction with the Aufbau publishing 
house. On Eva's behalf I agreed translation of a French novel. At the club I first 
of all ran into Abusch. He grumbled, Tschesno lived from poaching Aufbau 
authors, I should speak to Wendt. He, too, was rather displeased, wanted to 
publish the Resistance himself, feared only the difficulty of procuring the foreign 
currency. He had my French Lit. Hist, on his desk, wanted to give me an 'I 
believe: positive reply' in 10 days time; with respect to Resistance he would give 
me an answer in the evening at the opera. There he told me, he had exhausted 
his possibilities and could obtain no foreign currency. If Tschesno could arrange 
it, he would let him have the book; but I should be careful, Tschesno's publishing 
house was young and all too active, perhaps T. was promising more than he 
could fulfil, it was a mystery where T. wanted to get the money from. At that I 
telephoned Volk and Welt once again on Thurs. morning. Frau Graf told me, I 
could rely on it, the necessary 40,000 francs were available. I emphasised once 
more, that the period from 1 July until after the beginning of September was 
suitable for us. [. . .] 

On the Thurs. I was due to travel home with our group. Becher's secretary 
brought me a semi-confidential invitation for a birthday celebration for Becher: 
Thurs, the 22nd, 4 p.m. (Second telegram to E.) 

[...] 

On the morning of Thurs. 22, the ADN car took me to the broadcasting 
centre in Charlottenburg. There, against all expectation, I remained from 11 
a.m.-3 p.m. The longest time with Frau Jung and Demi, as whose guest I got a 
meal in the large canteen of the house. They made a great deal of my article 
'Congress of Bitter Words'. It was suitable for the political comment of the 
evening just as it was. Girnus, 59 the deputy director, had already decided that, 
G. also wanted to talk to me about the Becher congratulations: it should be 
brought up to date - his election as [Kulturbund] president and a response to a 
poisonous attack in the Telegraf had to be included. - The hour with Girnus 
himself, well-fed, neat, black-haired man in his forties was then more interesting 
than pleasant. He could not broadcast the Dachau report: a) too Russophile in 
'anti-Bolshevik Berlin', b) disunity in the VVN must not be made public, c) 
Kulturbund must not be given priority over VVN, d) USA too heavily attacked. 
He also advised against press publication. I said: his confidential views were 
more important to me than publication, we parted on the most friendly terms. 
[...] 

[. . .] I reached the club house by underground. In the 'Red Salon' a long 
horseshoe table and small birthday table for Becher with books, wine, liqueurs. 
Becher moved that there should be no speech-making, we had all heard enough. 
And indeed everything remained very informal. We got the usual (not bad but 


June 1947 


199 


also not especially festive) food. [. . .] I almost had the impression of a certain 
coolness on the part of Gysi, Willmann, Becher, but probably everyone was 
worn-out and tired. [. . .] 

The next morning, Friday the 23rd, car to the Anhalter Bahnhof [station] 
without any adventures, journey 7.30-12.30 to the Dresden Neustadt station. 
Here deep depression over the lost sheet music. [. . .] 


26th May, Whit Monday 

[...] 

Many distractions. - On Saturday evening haircut by Gustl, the prison barber. 
He came (shaken) from his own imprisonment. Like all his predecessors he had 
succumbed to temptation and passed on a secret message in return for 3 lbs of 
peas. He was put inside for 10 days and then simultaneously released from the 
cell and his post. [. . .] 


28th May, Wednesday morning 

E. is more than ever attached to her garden and her little tomcat. It is already 
settled [. . .] that she does not want to come to Paris with me - and also that it 
would be better for me, if she did not come. And I also have the impression, 
that she should not accompany me to Greifswald. The loss of the compositions 
was a heavy blow to her soul and nerves. It is painful to me, upsets me greatly - 
but I am dissipating myself completely here, I must do serious work. 

Yesterday: a couple of newspaper cuttings: Sartre (THE fashionable name, 
haunting me) translation of an anti-Semitism essay which Schottlander gave 
me in Berlin. 60 Esprit + French sexuality, not original. - A chapter of Mimesis. 
To be able to work again, without doing too many things! But on 5 June I have 
to say something about Thomas Mann in Grossenhain, on 31 May again go to 
the Executive Committee in Berlin, on 7 June speak on Rolland 61 in Freital. [. . .] 


2nd June, Monday forenoon. 

Berlin trip Executive Committee 31st May, 1st June Saturday, Sunday 

I forced President Wandel, His Magnificence Stroux, Meusel, the dean [. . .] to 
declare themselves. Meusel stayed anxiously in the background; Stroux said: 7 
have always heard good things about you, but Wartburg is against you and says, 
Vossler only praises you, because you are his student'; Meusel said: 7 am only 
an unimportant dean, and if I speak up for you, then they immediately say: 
"It's because they're both in the Party!" ' Stroux said, a Frenchman had just been 
appointed to lecture on recent French Literature. All said: things 'looked bad', 
at best I could get an invitation to give a guest lecture. I wanted a definite 
invitation before 20 June, 62 the negotiation date in Greifswald. That was rejected. 
Thereupon I thanked them for being so friendly as to give me the information 
and went. 


200 


The Lesser Evil 


That was in the 'Red Salon' after the Executive Committee meeting, which 
also upset me. Willmann reported, that the American sector was making things 
difficult for the Kulturbund - Kneschke just told me on the telephone, that the 
KB will probably have to vacate the office in Schliiterstr. [. . .] A press conference 
has been called for 27 June. There everything is to be done to defend the KB 
against the accusation of being a camouflaged SED organisation, and all meet- 
ings of local groups are once more to emphasise non-partisanship [...]. 


5th June, midnight Thursday 

Back from Grossenhain to which a car took me at 5: the lecture, the drive, the 
conversation with the chairman took their course as they usually do in small 
towns. Hall of a secondary school, probably 150-200 very attentive and gen- 
erously applauding people. I spoke well [...]- but it was shamelessly superficial, 
even though I had been working on it since Monday. Thomas Mann (born 6 
June 75) and the modern novel. [. . .] Tomorrow I must finish off the Rolland 
lecture for the day after in Freital. [. . .] New in it is the question: why is the 
novel the dominant genre today, and why the novelist the representative 
spokesman of his nation? 

The Schmidt affair took up a lot of my time in recent days. The man appears 
to be sentenced as a war criminal 63 - it's always the smallest fish who get it in 
the neck - now his property has been confiscated, the house is being cleared 
and the family is desperately clinging on to me. Medical student Gunther 
Schmidt, who is now - at my recommendation! - in his 4th semester at Jena, is 
very much at risk. He did not declare in the questionnaire, that his father was 
under arrest. 


8th June , Sunday forenoon 

[•••] 

My Munich-Dachau report was broadcast by the Dresden station yesterday. 
After the neutral introduction it broke off: the 'Congress of Bitter Words' etc. 
etc. was missing. They are afraid just as in Berlin [...]. I was paid 50M for the 
speech, I am sure I shall have the whole thing printed, I think in the next issue 
of Neues Leben (Schlesinger, FDJ) - nevertheless: pinprick! I am so sensitive, 
because I am without security in my profession, my essence. My chair at the 
TH, my Romance literature studies, what are they now in truth? There is an 
inner, psychological significance to that - but also a powerful economic one. 
What am I in the Kulturbund, what in the Party, what as speaker and journalist? 
An elderly not very useful man, sometimes too radical and undiplomatic some- 
times too much a mere decorative object and as such of the second rank. [. . .] 
Whom can one trust? [. . .] Whom in Germany should one believe? Quagmire 
everywhere. And everywhere here the most narrow-minded hostility to the 
Russians. Everyone hopes for the Americans, even for war against Russia. It is 
enough to drive one to despair. 


June 1947 


201 


10th June , Tuesday forenoon 

Considerable annoyance at Neues Leben publishers. In the Culture pamphlet 
they have 'smoothed out minor stylistic infelicities', i.e. some presumptuous 
schoolmaster has been 'smoothing out' in every second sentence of the galley 
proofs. [. . .] Completely senseless. I have forbidden publication and threatened 
proceedings, if text changes are made. I have withdrawn the promised pamph- 
lets 'From My School and University Years' and 'Speeches on Cultural Policy 
since 1945', unless I am given an assurance, that my mss will be printed 
verbatim. 'Culture' (for which a fee of 2000M has already been paid) lies 
uncorrected in my desk and weighs on my mind. 

[...] 

Reading: Anna Seghers The Seventh Cross 64 . Not quite as enthusiastic as Eva. A 
bad conscience, whenever I read a novel 'just for the sake of it'. But after all I 
must look at one thing and another. 


12th June , Thursday afternoon 

[. . .] The new suit was finished yesterday [. . .] and Frau Richter 65 picked it up in 
the afternoon. Brown, cotton and creased, but new and only 178M. - Apart 
from that yesterday morning I dictated a 'nine-Minute Voltaire', the 4th piece 
for the Berlin broadcasting station. - Apart from that at 5 in the afternoon in a 
splendid villa, 24 Emser Allee, the 'Society for the Study of the Culture of the 
Soviet Union' was launched. Some 40 guests, ministry, art academy, Kul- 
turbund - Renn (main speaker), Heidebroek and Gute the initiators. Gute took 
charge of a conducted tour through the mostly still empty house, which with 
Russian money is to become an important, elegant and nutritious club. As one 
of the couple of approving speakers I said: as already in Berlin I wanted to 
emphasise here also, we had need of real instruction in Russian literature, 
everything came to us second or third hand, knowledge of the language was 
lacking. - Richard Gladewitz took me home in his car. On the way he told me: 
Doris Machol had once come under suspicion in Paris, Kahane had been ordered 
to separate from her. But then Doris had been rehabilitated, and Kahane himself 
was 'completely all right'. 


15th June / Sunday forenoon 

The Falkenstein, Plauen programme was concluded. In F. I spoke indifferently 
to about 70 people, in P. to 200 people very well and for at least | of an hour - 
just whatever occurred to me and my mood allowed. Always the same thing, 
now one way, now mixed another way, now long, now short. In F. a hotel 
restaurant (the Adler, across from the Schemers), people sitting at tables, in P. a 
full hall. [. . .] At Trude Schemer's. She does not show her 62 years, nor the great 
loss. [. . .] We were very warmly received. [. . .] The following afternoon at 6 p.m. 
to Plauen, nice drive, 15 miles. After the lecture we sat a little over a glass of 


202 


The Lesser Evil 


beer - here, too, the lecture took place in a restaurant room [. . .] but the people 
sat as if in a hall [...]. More important to me was the talk with the [. . .] secretary 
of the Kulturbund [. . .]. Member of the SED, newly qualified teacher, suddenly 
dismissed. Her father unacceptable. Public prosecutor, de-Nazified, member of 
the SED ('no objections') from summer 46. [. . .] The daughter was at first 
accepted as a teacher, then dropped after all. She would like to study - has her 
school-leaving certificate, wants to take history as her main subject, is getting 
nowhere - 1 promised her Greifswald. But all of that is nothing new to me. New 
to me was this: 'I [I said] do not like it, if children have to suffer for their fathers, 
but it can be assumed, that children's minds are influenced by the parental 
home. Tell me honestly, what you thought.' She had believed in victory. And 
all the atrocities? 'We were taught a physical aversion to Jews. There was a class 
text: an Aryan girl marries a Jew; her horror as the racial characteristics became 
evident in their child: black curly hair, crooked nose ... I thought, it may be 
hard for the individual, but they must be got rid of, they are a contamination, 
this race . . . with dogs, too, we try to keep a pure pedigree . . .' 'Did you never 
think, that with human beings it's not the physical, the dog-breeding that 
counts, but the mind?' 'But we were taught that everything is derived from race 
... It made such an impression on me, Professor, when I heard you speaking in 
the theatre ... I was very shaken, when I was told you were a Jew. I would never 
have believed it . . .' I told her: 'Just as you shrank back from a Jew, so do people 
like us sense the smell of blood, when we hear of a man, he was a public 
prosecutor in the Third Reich. One then asks oneself: what has the child of such 
a man absorbed in murderous character?' . . . The girl made a good impression 
on me. But I regard the father as vermin, even were he not to have demanded 
a single criminal sentence in a political trial. He nevertheless served a criminal 
state as a lawyer. And he nevertheless did nothing to interfere with the Nazi 
education of his daughter ... It is the first time, that I have heard a girl speak 
so openly about her Nazi education . . . The Glaser case is closely related to that. 
He recently defended [in court] Nazi judges and passionately demanded their 
acquittal; as a result he has been (according to whose decision?) struck from the 
Victims of Fascism list. I received a copy of his letter of protest: he had been an 
assigned counsel, and the judges had acted as prescribed by law. Furthermore 
no evidence had been submitted, that they had participated in bloodstained 
trials ... [. . .] 

At last finished reading Seghers, The Seventh Cross. [. . .] I did not often really 
warm to it. Very many excellent sketches around the theme - but the theme 
itself narrow and partial. Excellent the technique of the detective story. 

[When I returned] I found a telegram from the Neues Leben publishing house: 
'Manuscripts will as a matter of course appear word for word and without any 
change. Letter follows'. Is that a complete kowtow? 


18th June, Wednesday evening 

It was reported [. . .], Friedrich's successor [as Saxon prime minister] is likely to 
be Zeigner. We heard of Friedrich's death - angina, at 55, the bulletin an awful 


June 1947 


203 


memento for me - on the way back from Falkenstein. 66 The flags there were just 
being lowered to half-mast. Schumann heard in a shop: 'What are the flags at 
half-mast for? - Well, the Russians are doing that, because theyTe leaving - the 
Americans are coming/ 

[...] 


23rd June , Monday evening 

Greifswald trip Thurs 19th-Saturday 21st June 

[. . .] The journey was harrowing. 2nd class as far as Berlin, but shoved up against 
an upright arm rest between people in proper seats. [. . .] tram to Stettiner 
station, there at about 1 . [. . .] Opposite the station a cellar restaurant, well fitted- 
out. However, I got only undefinable broth of pine needles or something. My 
dry bread with it. The train was due to depart at 6 p.m., until 4 I sat on a baggage 
counter in a large no longer roofed hall and read the 'Culture' proofs. Then I 
thought the train might now be standing ready, went up and found it packed. 
Several carriages taken by the Red Army. For a good hour I stood squeezed in 
on a corridor. Then this part of the train was also claimed by Russian soldiers 
and the German public (myself included) driven out fairly forcefully. So I had 
to let myself be squeezed into an even fuller carriage. It was oppressively hot. 
When the journey eventually began the situation improved somewhat. Air 
came in, and from time to time I could sit for a while. Sometimes on a proper 
seat, sometimes on a nurse's rucksack. I dosed a little. In Greifswald at 11.30. I 
had sent Weidhaas a telegram, he was not at the station, but there I was given 
the address of a hotel, the Preussische Hof. 

An elderly man took me most of the way, there was a more direct route, but 
it went through the park past too many Russians. The town was not safe, there 
were wild sailors among the occupiers. A beautiful large market square with 
very well-preserved imposing old houses, baroque gables, Baltic gables, every- 
thing here freshly whitewashed. The Preussische Hof on a narrow street, pretty 
room with a raised bay. In the morning nothing but black ersatz coffee and the 
dry bread I had brought with me. Then to the university. A row of whitewashed 
tall old houses. Opposite, surrounded by greenery, the magnificent massive red- 
brick cathedral with an almost clumsy big spire. At the univ. at first no one 
knew anything about me. An elderly minor official or senior beadle, was full of 
pitying surprise when he heard that I was a proper full professor. 'And you want 
to come here?!' (As if I were an idiot.) [. . .] Little food, much Russian uncertainty, 
houses were requisitioned. He unlocked the Romance Languages and Literatures 
department for me: in terms of literary history and the 19th century it was 
remarkably well stocked, apart from other large rooms it had a magnificent 
director's room, which I looked at longingly: to be alone here with typewriter 
and secretary! But the department (and that only as space) was the only plus. 
There appeared a pale and puny-looking lecturer from Schwerin, at the moment 
provisionally maid of all work, spoke of 30 students, of a secret Dante lecture - 
because Italian and Spanish lecture courses were still forbidden - of a desire and 
intention to return to Schwerin. A small younger man turned up, formerly 


204 


The Lesser Evil 


lecturer, now a budding professor of Slavonic languages and literature, already 
courted inter alia by Dresden. There appeared a young man walking with a 
stick, the student representative of the department. All pleasant, all surprised 
that I wanted to come here. The student promised to cycle to Jacoby, who was 
in the habit of arriving at 1 1 - but it was not certain. [. . .] finally Jacoby appeared. 
Even more hard of hearing than in Berlin, excessively polite - but evidently 
completely surprised and put out by my presence. A conference of university 
rectors in Halle, exceptionally the registrar also there - the lord mayor on 
holiday, his deputy an opponent of the university - why had I not written 
again? . . . what a 'run of bad luck', the phrase came repeatedly. He had evidently 
forgotten everything, he was dismayed, and I did not have any travel coupons 
with me? . . . Weidhaas appeared, and I clung to him as to an old friend. Now 
there was an emergency organisation of a few things, above all my return 
journey the next morning was to be taken care of ... I was to lunch with Jacoby. 
Torment, walking with him: he considered he was innocent, I should have 
written again, reminded . . . Something between parlour and old-fashioned 
living room, little too much upholstery, on the wall picture of the fallen son, 
Frau J. younger than he, livelier simply through not being deaf, energetic, 
dissatisfied with him. She 'had already eaten' (really?) - we got tiny jacket 
potatoes, which she peeled for us, a fish sauce with hardly discernible little 
atoms of fish, and lettuce, it was very difficult for me to even halfway eat my 
fill after the previous one and a half days of starvation. Following the meal he 
retired for a little while, he had a lecture at 4, and I told the good-looking 
woman of my anger and that I had little intention of accepting. She also advised 
me fairly openly to refuse: they would be unable to give me a house. After that 
he called, she went to him, and he immediately came in showing his irritation. 
He had to go to the lecture now, his wife said I was intending to refuse: if that 
were the case he did not want to pursue the matter any further, there was after 
all also a very young man, who . . . but if I were nevertheless able to make up 
my mind, I should call on him at 6 at the dean's office. I gave him an open 
answer, and we shook hands . . . Then Frau J. took me the few steps across to 
Weidhaas. [. . .] The return journey was organised, the Food Office and my hotel 
informed, a coffee ordered in the university hospital. The coffee was the best 
thing about this completely abortive day. The red-brick buildings of the hospital 
are crowded together beside the city wall. [. . .] A hospital supervisor gave us a 
friendly reception: room next to the kitchens, ersatz coffee but with sugar, jam, 
good bread and butter. And afterwards I even got an egg sandwich to see me on 
my way! - We sat there blissfully [. . .]. I then met J. in his office at about 5: he 
was evidently pleased that I had come after all, emphatically promised me 
house and garden, demanded: stay past the age of 68! asked after my health 
('angina!'), again encouraged me very strongly to come. 

He then accompanied me back to the hotel, we parted amicably ... I got a 
tiny supper and a couple of slices of bread for the return journey; then, as 
arranged, Weidhaas called for me. We had a beer in a restaurant and went for a 
long walk which curiously agreed very well with me and caused me no pain. 
[. . .] On the way Weidhaas told me a great deal about the university conditions. 


June 1947 


205 


The natural science sections appear to be in a good state, the humanities in a 
miserable one. For English there are only two lecturers, for French only 1. Of 3 
history chairs only one is occupied. [. . .] The whole Education Faculty evidently 
consists of newly qualified SED elementary school teachers. Jacoby [. . .] was 
born April 81, suspended during the Nazi period, because not indubitably Aryan, 
politically evident fairly far right (his wife, from Konigsberg, even further right), 
as a scholar presumably no leading light, as dean (according to Weidhaas) not 
only deaf but altogether detached from the world. W., together with the Socialist 
group of professors now wanted to attend to my house and my other requests. 
[. . .] On Saturday I was then woken at 3.30 and took, travelling somewhat more 
comfortably than on the journey out, from 4.50 to about 10 to get to Berlin. 
Home at about 10 p.m., two days before my telegram. - On the way every so 
often I read some proofs, so that I was able to finish them and the postscript to 
Thomas Mann's Thoughts in Wartime 67 [. . .] on Sunday and Monday. [. . .] On 
the way out I talked to a middle-aged theologian. He had been in Russia for 
years. His tune: The Russians are lovable, but Bolshevism is un-Russian, inhuman 
. . . Everywhere else complaints about the barbarism, poverty, tyranny, Nazi 
system of the Russians of all people ... On the way back the strange second- 
class compartment. [. . .] A man in his mid-40s, educated speech, and a young 
fellow. The man: the disgraceful trial of the poor nurses, who obeying orders to 
put a few incurables out of their misery gave the fatal injection. The lack of 
justice altogether, of course, in our zone. The young fellow: justice? Because I 
was a lieutenant - everyone who had a school-leaving certificate was made a 
lieutenant - I'm not allowed to study ... and men who got the Knight's Cross 
used to be thought the best ... and now ... At the glorification of the nurses I 
saw red, I said very loudly: I'm warning you - I'm not denouncing anyone, but 
I'm warning you! - Awkward silence. The young fellow: I can say what I think. 
I: I'm not giving you any private lectures . . . Proofs, the other talked about the 
weather ... An hour later, the young fellow had got out, a more or less friendly 
conversation developed. It turned out that there were another two SED people 
in the compartment, a senior railway official, member of Victims of Nazi 
Persecution, and a woman official. [. . .] The conversation ended peacefully once 
more on pro and contra with the respect to the Russians. 


25th June, Wednesday evening 

After rejecting Greifswald I must find my feet here again. Thus yesterday despite 
the exhausting and feared walk to the TH: meeting of the SED works group. 
[. . .] Again and again I am struck by how well the workers speak and discuss in 
their bad German. 

[...] 

Hardly any work done except business correspondence dealt with: people 
comment on work or lectures by me and must get a word of thanks. [. . .] A 
certain F. C. Weiskopf, emigre journalist in New York has asked me via Steininger 
for my co-operation on an emigre lexicon. 68 I promised articles on Plievier, 


206 


The Lesser Evil 


Bredel, Friedrich Wolf in return for payment in Care Packets ... I read a little 
bit of Mimesis. 


29th June 1947 , Sunday evening. Together for 43 years! 

Berlin trip Thurs. 26th June 7.30-Saturday 28th June 9 p.m. 

It went really badly, Pm fed up to the back teeth with it all, and I do not want 
show my face there again for a while. In terrible heat - up to 40° - extremely 
exhausting, two short but unpleasant bouts of palpitations, the first during the 
fight for the tram on Thurs. morning, the second on Friday afternoon, as I was 
walking in blazing heat from Jagerstr. to Aufbau in Franzosische Str. (Wendt 
gave me a car to take me back.) Personal frictions, in particular with Abusch, a 
little also with Gysi (Willmann not present, Becher remote and cold). [. . .] I did 
not feel myself sufficiently respected and there was a slightly strained atmos- 
phere between myself and the Kulturbund. Worse, and that especially irritated 
me, my Lit. Hist, has not been accepted yet, a yes is being made dependent on 
editors' judgements and - since Abusch is 'ideological director' - this will now 
presumably not be forthcoming. I cast doubt on the authority of the editors; I 
was told they are not judging my academic competence, but whether the book 
fits without the framework of the 'material humanism' (what's that?!) which 
the Aufbau publishing house has knocked together. Abusch declared, he had 
immediately been dismayed, when he heard of an unscrutinised acceptance by 
the meanwhile sacked Wilhelm. 

[. . .] I also found little favour with Wandel, who was aggrieved by my rejection 
of Greifswald. G. would become a major university, he claimed. Then they 
should have treated me better, if they wanted and needed me, I said. He, very 
bitterly: that is what the universities were doing all the time and sabotaging 
him or the Berlin Central Administration; Leipzig was not doing enough for 
Werner Krauss, whom he, Wandel, would so much like to have there ... I 
said, I would not get involved again, unless I were treated with dignity. [. . .] 
Professionally I enjoyed only the call on, the discussion with Schlesinger - He 
apologised once more for the faux pas with the Culture proofs. [. . .] 

The session itself on the Friday was completely insignificant. [. . .] 

The one thing: journey there: on the train police check at Grossenhain. In 
our compartment a painting was taken from a young man, because he did not 
have a receipt with him. Confiscated goods can be reclaimed in Dresden after 2 
weeks, if a receipt or documentary evidence is produced. In order to prevent 
racketeering. (But 1. where can one always find documentary evidence? And 2. 
the little fish are caught, the big ones . . .) Indignation in the compartment, and 
the man with the picture - his appearance did not inspire confidence: 'They 
harass us. And the UNRRA Jews bring lorry loads of stockings out of Chemnitz. 69 
Buy them at 60M a pair, sell them in Berlin for 120M.' (The UNRRA Jews [. . .] 
and the cemetery desecrations in Chemnitz and Zittau. Desperate.) And always 
hostility to the Russians. [. . .1 
[...] 


July 1947 


207 


[. • .]To the club, where I was picked up by Mackie Kahane, and where there 
was the unfortunate quarrel with Abusch. What nonsense to tell Mackie this 
was a club for cultural workers and not for journalists! I rubbed Abusch's face 
in it the next day. Of course he denied having put it 'like that' and meant it 
'like that', and of course it will be taken out on my Lit. Hist. - We then drove 
out to Niederschonhausen, where we spent rather more agreeable hours. [. . .] 
Towards evening on Friday Mackie called for me at Schlesinger's and made 
friends with him. Both were in France with the Resistance, and both Jews. 
Schlesinger displays a calm cordiality towards me, which does me good. [. . .] 


30th June , midday Monday 

Until now in suffocating heat the above diary entries. In addition business 
correspondence and at last completed Mimesis. (Is to become an article for 
Aufbau.) From time to time pleasant remembrance of our wedding day. [. . .] 
[...] 


6th July , Sunday morning 

Yesterday morning faculty meeting about the university statute. Simon told me 
during the meeting, afterwards in a long evidently sincerely friendly con- 
versation: in Karlshorst my chair was cut for the moment; if the SMA did not 
after all leave teacher training to the TH, I would have to go. It is very bitter . . . 
Faculty and government are in conflict with Rector Heidebroek: he holds on to 
his executive power and to his exclusively technical establishment (in which 
the Russians support him, in both ! ) while we want democracy. At the same 
time Trinks and Woldt, the SED people, then uphold the rights of academic 
autonomy against the rector and against the government, whereby they in turn 
lend help to the cronyism of the reactionary professors. And the government 
(Simon) is paralysed, because it does not want to detach itself from the West. 
Thus I am between all stools. It is impossible for me to be more between stools. 
[...] 


9th July , Wednesday night 

[.•J 

On the afternoon of the same day [the 7th] district committee meeting of the 
VVN in Bautzenerstr., there were 14 of us. Discussion of the Glaser case. [. . .] 
Everyone condemned him. Long debate, to what extent it was permissible for 
us to intercede for a Nazi. (Never in general and absolutely!) [. . .] Cohn, public 
prosecutor, in the shortest trousers, almost swimming trunks, naked thighs, 
naked legs and feet, sandals) reported on the trial of the injection [euthanasia] 
doctors. 70 4 death sentences demanded, out of 11 accused. 

[...] 


208 


The Lesser Evil 


14th July , Monday afternoon 

[. . .] (NB What has happened to Kretzschmar-Neumark [. . .]? It is as if he had 
vanished from the face of the earth. I last heard from him in June, he wrote a 
bitter letter to me, a plea for help for his stepfather; I thereupon tried to reach 
him by telephone, later in writing. Not a word. Have the Russians arrested him, 
has he fled to the West?) 

[..J 

Visit by the twin Hiltrut Zabel; she asked for a recommendation for admission 
to study medicine. I gave her the requested reference, but was very pessimistic. 
Overcrowded faculties! There were tears: we're fighting so hard for it and now 
we may get nowhere! [. . .] The people from the Evening Grammar School still 
place their hopes in me and do not know how powerless I am. 


17th July , Thursday evening 

[. . .] After I had at last finished reading Mimesis , I squeezed out a review of it; 
then I prepared the lecture on the Realist Novel, which I gave as normal in 
Blasewitz Secondary School [. . .] to 75 mostly youthful listeners. That is now to 
become a study for the Aufbau. - Today meanwhile I dictated without a break 
two recently commissioned wireless things to Frau Stephan [...]. Apart from 
the journalism the only work I managed in recent days was a little modern 
reading: Plievier: Im letzten Winkel der Erde and - begun - Ostrovsky How the 
Steel Was Tempered . 71 


18th July, Friday morning 

From day to day this waiting which wears one down: will the Aufbau publishing 
house take on my Lit. Hist.? Will the Paris trip . . . will Greifswald . . .?? And 
lately also the pitiful waiting for 'packets' and for the pajok allocation. 72 [. . .] 
The SED requested an opinion from me on Heinsch, who has applied for the 
'Diplomatic Service'. I wrote an emphatic and detailed pro. 

[. . .] Long private letter to the faithful Berthold Meyerhof, the most recent 
packet sender. 


20th July , Sunday forenoon 

On Friday afternoon I recorded the two pieces at the studio, after I had revised 
them again in the morning: 'The London Conference' 73 and 'On the Inner 
Reconstruction of Dresden' (Cultural Sciences Institute etc.). Subsequently I sat 
by myself for an hour in a conference room and read Ostrovsky, after that from 
7 until almost 9 in the big broadcasting studio the Spain rally of the VVN (11th 
anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War). All too soon after the Poland 
meeting, all too great saturation of the all too hungry population with useless 
political talk. Very dull. The 200 or so people were hardly noticeable in the huge 
hall. [. . .] Richard Gladewitz, who took his place in giving the address of welcome 


July 1947 


209 


and as manager, recognised the mood, Hilse did not. I myself see everywhere 
in the SED, Kulturbund etc. the same thing: retreat, accommodation . . . Very 
long speech by a Spaniard, Lorenzo, of which I and probably most people did 
not understand a single sentence: because he read very quickly with very 
incorrect emphasis in very broken German and the acoustics were very poor. It 
was amusing how he and Gladewitz embraced and kissed one another. After 
that Hentschke, a German combatant [. . .] delivered a few political-historical 
generalities, but did not touch the sole essential question: why did Russia 
withdraw then and sacrifice the Spaniards? Cf. on this score: why did it sign a 
treaty with Germany, why did all the Allies not lift a finger as long as the Nazis 
unleashed their fury only in Germany and only against the Jews? What happened 
to humanism? [. . .] The actor Lewitt and his wife (Kiiter) declaimed, the cere- 
mony passed sluggishly. Who is the Pasionaria, 74 whose picture hung in front 
of the lectern and whose speech to the International Brigades was spoken by 
Frau Kiiter? 

On Saturday [. . .] afternoon with E. and Frau Kreisler visited Kussi in Hellerau. 
I always like talking to him, he is educated, sees the larger picture, is considered 
in his judgements. [. . .] About the Russians, with whom he has considerable 
and amicable dealings (Rheostat is a reparations company): Obliging and good- 
natured, but industrially and organisationally unable to cope. Chaos . . . Their 
mistakes: why the secretiveness, the spiriting people away instead of public 
trials? (The Neumark case - Kretzschmar is said to have gone to the West, after 
he was arrested once or in danger of arrest . . . Mysterious business. His mother 
still here. [. . .] Going through my own mind: I was always too much harnessed 
to one thing. For many years my world was only that of Romance language and 
literature, not even the general philosophical milieu. Now the danger is of 
becoming so one-sidedly SED man and Soviet citizen. I am beginning to see 
beyond this milieu. But I am tied, I am tied to it. 

The primitive Ostrovsky. 

[...] 


25th July ; Friday forenoon 

On Mon. 21 there was a not especially well-attended meeting of the Bloc Parties 
in Dolzschen Inn on the subject of securing the harvest - protecting the 
fields. All speakers very depressed. The sheer starvation, the excessive mortality 
everywhere. The thefts, the senseless pulling out and trampling down while 
gleaning and during the too early invasion of harvested fields, 'before the last 
waggon has rolled out'. This mediaeval image is altogether familiar to me. 
People of 'the better classes' join in. Dolzschen needs 200 volunteers for night 
patrols. They are promised definite supply of their potato ration and two pounds 
of root vegetables as compensation for each nocturnal patrol. A whole crowd 
of people put their names down afterwards. [. . .] 

Tuesday to Thursday (22nd-24th) was taken up with the visit by the Kahanes 
announced by telegram at the last minute. They come depressed: their little 


210 


The Lesser Evil 


house was suddenly to be vacated for the Russian army. They were then informed 
of a postponement [. . .] but also simultaneously, that there had been a burglary 
and curtains and blankets stolen. Their arrival here at first meant we did not 
have enough food. Immediately afterwards, however, I received news from the 
Kulturbund, that the pajok voucher had arrived after all. There had been talk 
of cancellation this month. Frau Richter was put in the news agency car, which 
Mackie had at his disposal, and in an hour brought up not only the voucher, 
but also the wonderful things themselves. (Shop in the Antonstr.) We then lived 
sumptuously. [. . .] 

This evening Eva is speaking (maiden speech!), as newly elected Dolzschen 
'women's officer' in Cafe Dolzschen, on women in the Western European 
countries. A pity, that I'm not allowed to be present. 'A harem matter,' says E. 
Also addressed to Eva is the translation proposal from Volk and Welt. The book, 
Jacques Roumain's Gouvemeurs de la rosee, 75 arrived the day before yesterday; 
but no word of how matters stand with my planned trip to France. 

[...] 

I read to the Kahanes from my Talmud sayings. 76 1910! To be so ancient and 
still not satisfied and as unready for death as ever! 

[...] 


31st July , Thursday forenoon 

[. . .] Then in the evening Gottfried Heinsch was here [...]. 

Then Heinsch spoke very pessimistically about the Party: Very great tension 
between KPD and SPD, a lot of 'Schuhmacherism' even among our people, 
very many nasty goings-on [...]... But the most interesting thing about Heinsch 
was this: it turned out, that he is absolutely convinced of the world domination 
of the Jews organised through Freemasonry. The headquarters was in Jerusalem, 
the 'higher degrees' (from the 33rd degree) were in the USA, his uncle wore a 
diamond pin, which supposedly represents a G = Goodman, but in reality 
represents a J = Jehovah, and before which everyone trembled. His uncle was 
not a Jew, but all instructions, all orders concerning America and the world 
came from powerful Jewish bankers and the leadership was to be found in 
Jerusalem. The enthronement of the Pope also took place in such a way that 
'the Grand Rabbi' blessed him. I drew Heinsch's attention to the fact, that much 
or all of the ceremonial and the ritual of the Church was derived from Old 
Testament examples - he himself, however, evidently believed literally in the 
domination of the Lodge Jew or of Jewry concealed in Masonry. That means, 
therefore, that this decent Marxist and philo-Semite, whom I had recommended 
for a diplomatic career, is completely convinced of Nazi theory and legend. 
Probably he also believes in The Elders of Zion. 77 E. just said, perhaps he is a 
Freemason himself ... So how far have we got in the de-Nazification of 
Germany? And what does it say about enlightenment and rationalism in our 
Party? Que sais-je? 78 


August 1947 


211 


3rd August , Sunday morning 

[...] 

Yesterday forenoon the [. . .] meeting of the regional steering committee of 
the Kulturbund. [. . .] Eva Blank had urged and pestered me, I had to speak for 
an hour. Subject: the last Executive Committee meeting. But there was nothing 
at all to say about it. Griiss, CDU, Rector of Freiberg Mining Academy, [. ..] 
attacked the Russians (justified unpopularity! - people disappearing, mining 
. . .) [. . .] A great deal to no effect was said about uniform guidelines for 
denazification and appointment of civil servants. One speaker demanded 
denazification tribunals for the Eastern Zone. Willmann, just back from a trip 
to the West, was very interesting at this point: denazifications by these courts 
were 'the most popular article on the black market'. Complete fiasco of the 
institution, extremely corrupt nonsense. - The 'curtain' between West and East 
had become ever thicker in the last year. The people in the West did not ask, 
how things were with us in the East, but 'how is it in Russia?' People believed, 
inter alia, that in Berlin the interzonal pass was needed to go from one street to 
the next. [. . .] Griiss pointed out, that Bloc parity did not in fact exist. He 
mentioned figures: in the district there were about 70 villages in which only the 
SED was organised and recognised, the CDU was unable to hold meetings, put 
up candidates etc. ... I am convinced, that in a truly free election today the 
SED would become a tiny minority party. 


4th August , Monday forenoon 

Yesterday, Sunday 3 Aug., forenoon, opening of an exhibition of Dresden artists 
at Emser Allee (Kulturbund). Renn opened, Kroner 79 read meaningless familiar 
phrases from a sheet of paper, Helene somebody a pretentious letter by Rilke 
about Rodin. An inordinately overcrowded hall, terrifically close, from outside 
the racket of the crowd of those who had been unable to find a place. Proceedings 
were shortened as much as possible. [. . .] 

[. . .] The article on the realist novel for Aufbau is still in abeyance. And 
absolute uncertainty, what to undertake after that. Everything in the balance 
and undecided. [. . .] 

Yesterday at the exhibition I met, among others, the Glasers. I gave him my 
hand, which he took, and afterwards had a brief conversation with Frau Gl. She 
told me, I should not take the matter to heart, she agreed with me - he was 
simply 'so unpolitical'. 


5th August , Tuesday morning 

Yesterday Heidebroek told me in open session: it was final, the decision had 
come from Karlshorst, my chair was cut, the TH was paying me on instruction 
of the ministry, which would now, however, have to give me notice. [. . .] But 
my role is now presumably really at an end: Johannes Kuhn is professor in 
Leipzig, Wildfiihr, who sat coolly and mockingly beside me, is professor in 


212 


The Lesser Evil 


Leipzig, and I am nothing at all any more. Neither in the university nor in 
politics. 


8th August, Friday evening 

Professionally I live from hand to mouth. I stuck an ending onto the failed 
study of the 'Realist Novel' and sent it to Aufbau. Very possible that I get it back, 
as I got the ' Mimesis' article back from the Tagl. Rundschau. - 1 wrote, tiresomely 
slowly but with a good outcome the article 'For and Against Romanticism', a 
review [for Neues Deutschland] of the jelly-like Lion book Romanticism as German 
Fate, which Rowohlt sent me some time ago. [. . .] I now want to undertake a 
review of Kiichler's Rimbaud [translations], I have avoided it for a long time. 
From one small job to the next I hope, always in vain, for something that will 
focus me on one of my bigger plans. There's no word from anyone and I'm left 
in a vacuum - Aufbau, the Beltz publishing house - only Volk and Welt has 
written to me, the Paris plan has fallen through. [. . .] 


12th August, Tuesday forenoon 

[...] 

Since being elected to the Executive Committee of the Kulturbund, I regularly 
receive Sonntag [weekly] and Aufbau [monthly], I buy Einheit [Unity - an SED 
theoretical monthly] and Neue Welt [fortnightly] from a hawker, the Kahanes 
in Berlin send Bam [Berlin am Mittag - a daily, pub. Feb. 47-Feb. 48] and Les 
lettres Frangaises [French weekly for art and literature, which emerged from the 
Resistance], Lancelot [a German monthly on French culture] often reaches me - 
but I read hardly any of it, I consider the book more nutritious. Thus I am now 
in the middle of Becher's ghastly Abschied 80 . On the other hand: I can only 
become up to date through the periodicals. Those mentioned gave me two 
things - it cost me the late evening yesterday: a) a supplement to my Rimbaud 
article; I am sending the addition, really only a single sentence, to the Sonntag 
today, to which I have also sent a Kuchler article I wrote during the last few 
days; b) an initial very vague idea about Sartre. Yesterday I read [the article]: A. 
Leutis: 'Die Philosophic auf Vieren' [Philosophy on all fours]. 81 Cardinal ques- 
tion: d'ou cette haine impitoyable des Bolchevistes? 82 [. . .] I am straying through 
the topical matter like this, because I am all the time sitting in uncertainty 
between stools, because there's still not a word from anyone - Aufbau publishing 
house, Beltz, Greifswald. [. . .] 


14th August, Thursday afternoon 

[...] 

Wed. forenoon. Assmann, the director [. . .] had asked me to view the State 
Library, which is about to open. It has been transferred from Eisenacherstr. to 
the north of the city, according to Assmann due to spite on the part of the city 
of Dresden, because this new and very difficult move was not necessary. Barracks 


August 1947 


213 


quarter [. . .] a hike. A huge building partly rebuilt inside, partly still being 
rebuilt. Shortage of workers and librarians, of materials, of machines. [. . .] A 
long flight (doors broken through) of shelved books, a reference library of 
some 120,000 volumes, acquisitions since 1927, completed catalogue rooms, 
an issuing desk, a huge half-finished reading room, lending service will begin 
in the next few days. Then there is an enormous heap of books: German History 
already classified. A periodicals room is extant: [Some] Western journals [. . .] 
available. But: everything else, more than a half a million volumes, all the 
treasures of the 18ieme, exactly what I need for my Lit. Hist., lies in the cellars 
firmly stowed away and piled like bricks up to the ceiling. This is now to be 
sifted into groups. 'In about six months' the Romance literatures could probably 
be ready for use. 'Director, you are an optimist!' It could also take a whole year 
or even much longer than that . . . The hopelessness of the situation speaks for 
Greifswald. Assmann talked about the new problems cropping up all the time. 
Only one academic librarian, no trained library attendants etc. Shortage of 
transport. Of 1 million volumes, 200,000 are gone. The Russians removed crate- 
loads of 'treasures' including valuable periodicals. On 13 Feb. 45 the Japanese 
Palais only contained 'whatever was hardly worth evacuating' Assmann 
also related how he had dug up his own daughter, an academic librarian [. . .] 
and removed her 'completely crushed body' on a handcart. He himself is now 
in his mid-50s ... I resolved to read for a couple of hours every 10-14 days in 
the periodical rooms - an excursion! 

Back very exhausted at 3 p.m. I found as house-guests Trude Ohlmann and 
her nephew Werner Fischer, a modest, educated, calm fair-haired man of 36, 
a commercial clerk here. The nephew left today, Trude will remain until 
Sunday. Features of this visit: the infinite hostility of the population to the 
Russians and the SED, especially on the part of the petty bourgeoisie, very 
especially that of Leipzig. There the shortages seem even greater than here. 
The viewpoint of the 'salaried employees': the workers hate us, the workers 
get more to eat (higher ration cards), the injustice of the Russian [food] packets, 
(the Leipzig people say 'Stalin packets'), the workers, the 'Communists' insult 
the middle classes, the Russians take 'everything' from us. Most of all I was 
shaken by something the very calm and altogether anti-Nazi Werner Fischer 
said, who had served at the front as an infantryman, and had seen great 
destruction but no atrocities in the East: 'Do you believe that there were 
mass gassings?' . . . The doubt that it happened is being fostered, is widespread. 
What good is all the educational work? . . . Immediately after that the question: 
'Is it true that Pieck and Grotewohl live in Karinhall?' 83 ... The SED behaved in 
every respect just like the Nazis. And again and again: people say that under 
Hitler they got their butter. And again and again: robberies by Russians! And: 
when a German paediatrician told a commandant 30% of infants in Leipzig 
were dying, the latter had replied: 'Far too few!' - Thanks to the trade fair 
hypocrisy there appears to be particular wretchedness in Leipzig . . . But never- 
theless the worst thing is the radical doubt: there was no gassing! - I spoke 
in favour of the Russians and the SED to the best of my ability, probably in 
vain ... [. . .] 


214 


The Lesser Evil 


16th August , Saturday forenoon 

Leipzig, 16 Ritterstr. (town centre) Faculty of Philosophy. The old cleaning 
woman: 'Which committee? Romance [Languages and Literatures]! This room 
please.' It was 12.30, they had begun at 10.30. They: a distinguished, not very 
intelligent-looking slim old gentleman, clipped grey moustache, pale blue eyes, 
everything pale and distinguished [. . .]. I immediately thought: Eduard von Jan, 
was quite unembarrassed: 'Klemperer - the usual breakdown - pardon me . . 
stuck out my hand, it was taken with sourire fige. 84 On the other side of the 
table, out of the glare, little changed apart from the greyness of his short hair, 
Neubert. With perhaps well-acted casual heartiness: 'Still the old Neubert!' And 
beside him, keeping the minutes, Brummer, 85 modest man of 40, in poor health, 
Neubert's student from Breslau, he once had a friendly exchange with me in 
the Kulturbund here, just called to the chair in Rostock. Apart from that three 
taciturn Slavists whom I did not know - the Anglists were meeting somewhere 
else. They had already discussed the French curricula, had just come to the 
appointment rules, everything was evidently settled by Neubert and Jan. I 
immediately cut in: the curricula were intended for the average teacher and not 
for the researcher. I won another hour for the 20th century in French literature, 
it was cut from the fat of Old French, I won an internal essay test in German. 
Neubert and Jan, half-approving, conducted rearguard actions. At 1.15 Jan said: 
'We are finished, therefore, and I am closing the meeting' and hurriedly left the 
room, without taking leave of anyone. During the discussion he had not once 
looked at or addressed me, but matter-of-factly given way to me in everything 
[...]. What will he have been thinking? He knows that I have driven him out 
of Leipzig to Jena, yet myself have not gained Leipzig . . . Now, engaged in 
friendly-unaffected conversation(l) with Neubert and Brummer, I walked over 
to the guest house of the city of Leipzig, a villa converted into a club, behind 
the Reich court building. (Oppressive heat and bad pains.) At dinner there were 
Bohme from the Central Administration, Steinitz from the Univ. of Berlin 86 and 
some Americanists and Slavists likewise from there. I said to Bohme, I would 
like to inform him to the effect, that I was now after all prepared to accept 
Greifswald, since retirement did not greatly appeal to me . . . Inwardly I am very 
much against Greifswald since yesterday: 1) Wretchedness of a small university 
[...]. 2) It now looks as if I were running after the people. [. . .] 

So for once at least I sat down officially with the Leipzig Philosophical Faculty 
and even had a decisive influence on curricula. [. . .] 


18th August, Monday morning 

The dreadful famine now also weighs on private feelings. One can really see 
catastrophe approaching. One sees the famine, one hears the weather report, 
'no change' as something inexorable. 

[. . .] It was impossible to think of work in recent days. But on what should I 
have been working? I am so empty. I cannot make up my mind to undertake 
any major enterprise. And how should I carry out a major enterprise without 
books - condition of the State Library! 


August 1947 


215 


[. . .] Brummer, Neubert, von Jan - [. . .] this narrow-minded stuffiness of the 
clique! And that's where I long to be, and their disparagement - Neubert laughed 
derisively: ' LTV. yes, I've heard of it/ the way one says: piece of journalism, 
muck! - their disparagement wounds me! Stupid, of course - but it wounds me 
nevertheless . . . 


20th August , midday Wednesday 

At midday on Monday came the humorous kowtow from Greifswald, 87 an 
infinite comfort to me, because it puts solid ground under my feet, and it flatters 
my self-confidence. I telegrammed Jacoby: 'Very moved. Delighted. Looking 
forward to our next meeting. Your Kl/ [. . .] 

Then at 5 in the afternoon there was a VVN session at Bautzenerstr. to discuss 
the programme for 14 Sept. Two tendencies: Hilse wanted all kinds of events 
and demonstrations in the open air. Others feared empty halls, fiasco as with 
the Poland and Spain meetings, demanded restriction to the essentials. I 
belonged very vigorously to the latter, repeatedly emphasised how unloved we 
were - we, i.e. the VVN, the OdF [Victims of Fascism], the SED, the 'stooges of 
the Russians'. [. . .] I met with understanding, the limitation of the ceremonies 
was also accepted - no street demonstration. I am one of the delegates to the 
VVN ceremonies in Berlin (12-14 September). 

[...] 


21st August, Thursday forenoon 

[...] 

On [Tuesday] evening - E. was about to go to bed - the Seidemanns arrived 
after 10. Erich back from his holiday-black market trip to the English West. 
Very shaken: over there enough to eat, at cheap black market prices even 
abundance. Complaints about Russian tyranny. Especially in the mines. The 
Party here gave in too much to the Russians. It sounded rather Schuhmacher- 
like and rather like the popular tune here. [. . .] We already knew that Seidemann 
would not be re-elected Dolzschen chairman of the SED. - Now yesterday in 
Dolzschen Inn, from 6 until midnight!!, big meeting: new management com- 
mittee elected, delegates to the Party conference elected, talk by a man from 
the district committee, Gabriel, on the Party line and intentions for the Party 
conference. Central: see it through, go hungry, must not sell ourselves to 
the Americans! Passionate discussion. One comrade: we are starving, we are 
collapsing at our machines, it cannot go on! Into the middle of this now 
came Seidemann's hardly moderated Schuhmacherism of the previous evening. 
Extremely fierce attack on him by a radical foreman at Braune's bread factory. 
Attacks on Seidemann and on Schubert the always somewhat embittered 1st 
chairman, a dark obstinate little man [...]. Waist, the paper-hanger, who would 
so much have liked to have gone to the [Art?] Academy, became chairman, 
Schubert and Seidemann got other posts - shout from the audience: 'Party 
discipline!' Eva, only recently become women's leader of the neighbourhood 


216 


The Lesser Evil 


group [. . .] advanced to women's adviser for the whole Dolzschen group. [. . .] It 
makes me very happy to see with what enthusiasm she is getting involved. She 
wears the SED badge as a brooch. - At the same time she has signed the contract 
with Volk and Welt for the Roumain translation and has already buckled down 
to it. [. . .] It seems to me the beginning of a renaissance after the terrible blow 
of the theft of the sheet music. 

This morning telegram from Teubner: licence [to publish] granted - whether 
I can deliver the ms of Mod. French Prose by the end of September. I replied 'in 
principle yes' (I think I shall give notice of a supplement for Easter 48 - for the 
moment a great deal would already be gained by a reprint of the 2nd edition + 
my foreword.) My mood very much improved! 

Perhaps Greifswald will be our salvation, Eva's and mine, academically, music- 
ally (organ playing!), politically. Perhaps - an hour later I am down again. 

[...] 


28th August, Thursday towards evening 

Always remember: 1) You are a war profiteer, you owe your successes solely to 
the emptiness of the Eastern Zone. 2) these are provisional successes, at no 
moment are you certain, today powerful, tomorrow impotent. 3) vanitas van- 
itatum - one foot in the grave, when will the other follow, and what will survive, 
and what is the value of this survival? - Nevertheless: the last few days have 
once again given nourishment to my wounded vanity and, beyond all the aches 
in my bones and thoughts of death, have given me all kinds of pleasure. [. . .] 


30th August, Saturday forenoon 

Telegram from Jacoby in Greifswald: 'Villa definitely bought. Department 
moving. Letter follows' . . . God wills it. Does he, or just my childish vanity, and 
against E.'s interests? 

Yesterday afternoon, at the Dresden broadcasting station, I spoke my 5 minute 
congratulation for Vossler in shortened and improved form. I read, only half 
understanding, Brecht {St Joan of the Stockyards ); 88 1 read - from the State Library - 
Julius Wilhelm: Nietzsche und der franzosische Geist [N. and the French mind]. 89 
Very flat. And 1 don't exist in it. But now I'm on way back! 

[...] 

High spirits above the constant substratum of the vanitatum-vanitas. I talked 
about it over breakfast to E., who is now also making her first appearances: 
yesterday evening she accepted her first resolution as head of women's affairs 
for the district [Dolzschen]: joint meetings of the neighbourhood-group women; 
this morning there was a telephone call about her choir for 14 Sept. E. is much 
more indifferent towards age, death and the awareness of nullity than I. She 
also has much less retrospective erotic longing than I. For myself I formulated: 
dulcis gloria, dulcior juventus. 90 
[...] 


September 1947 


217 


2nd September, early Tuesday. Gorlitz 

[...] 

After the lecture for a beer with the grey-haired, gentle, careworn Riepke and 
a like-minded fellow and friend of his, a welfare official. Two complaints the 
subject [of our conversation]: a) the Russians. They have forfeited every sym- 
pathy. People are 'taken away', 'disappear' (to Bautzen 91 [prison]), are bullied, 
spied on . . . There is greater freedom in the West; we are not allowed our 
Germanness: Riepke's daughter has gone to the West, because, not guilty of 
anything, she was picked up by the Russians and kept in custody for weeks . . . 
Why is Silesia, the German province, under Polish control? Because the Russians 
have stolen eastern Poland and are compensating the Poles with German 
territory . . . The pajok is unfair and a Russian form of bribery . . . These are all 
complaints of our comrades', b) complaint no. 2. Why is there still a rift in the 
SED? Why are 'we SPD'ers' oppressed, discriminated against, muzzled? Treated 
as heretics if we are not the most hidebound materialists, do not completely 
ignore personalities, ideas in our view of history?? - Both complaints shake me 
equally. But I believe I must stick with the radical and Russophile line, it is not 
nice, but probably necessary nonetheless. 

[...] 


12th September, 9 p.m. Friday evening 

Completely exhausted. The Land [Saxon] conference has been in full swing since 
yesterday afternoon in oppressive numbing heat. [. . .] with all the repetitions in 
the discussions I fall asleep, wake up again, suffer ... it is all so empty and 
monotonous, I only endure it because I am on the list for the Party Congress. 

Very questionable is the semi-hypocrisy, the half-measure of our SED 
position: We are sincerely pursuing bloc politics, we want real democracy, for 
we are not yet ripe for a Socialist republic, we must prepare for it, in fact 
through real democracy! [. . .] Schrecker came up to me, I gave the most 
wrong-headed speeches, was impossible, would not be re-elected. I laughed 
at him and felt annoyed. Others told me that Minister Hartsch, whom I missed 
this morning, had said something very similar to myself on the universities 
issue. [. . .] 

When I speak in Berlin at the Party Congress, I shall seriously quote, what 
one of the educationalists in Leipzig recently said to me in all seriousness: 'You 
still here? Anyone who has a good opinion of himself goes to the West.' (He 
was thinking of Gadamer and Litt.) 92 


28th September, Sunday evening. Dresden 

[. . . Here the dating of the entries is inconsistent because Klemperer did not get 
around to writing them up immediately.] 


218 


The Lesser Evil 


On Friday and Saturday (27 Sept.) I strove in vain with the Mod. French Prose. 
The 1926 study emphasises the 'national religion' so strongly and the typically 
French humanism of the French and their occasional cruelty, that I can hardly 
get away with it all ('we are incapable of it') today. Should I moderate by making 
changes, leave it out completely, neutralise it with a foreword? [. . .] ... I am 
sure I will not get down to proper scholarly work until Greifswald; here I am 
too tired and my attention too divided. 

[..J 


22nd September 1947, 6 AS Monday morning. 
Niederschonhausen/Berlin at Mackie's 

[...] 

(On the same Sunday [VK was attending a VVN congress in Berlin] E. was 
accompanist at the event in the Apollo Theatre - Lewitt, Kuter, Lowen; broadcast 
of her composition had taken place on the Saturday.) We drove to the Gen- 
darmenmarkt [square in Berlin]. There columns were assembling with flags and 
placards: 'Veterans of Spain', 'Buchenwald', 'Auschwitz', 'Emigres', 'Mau- 
thausen' etc. etc. [. . .] 

On Mon., the 15th [. . .], we picked up E. from Friedrichstr. station at midday 
and Mackie drove us to Anny Kl. in Charlottenburg. E. was very exhausted, 
physically and mentally throughout these days. Heat, train, preceding exertions 
and - Greifswald. Caught Anny in the middle of her meal. She had some cousin 
by marriage with her, told me afterwards the lady was a strict Catholic and 
came from Cologne. When I talked about my call to Greifswald, the cousin 
cried out in genuine horror: My God - then you might as well be in Russia!' [...]- 
and when we both laughed and tried to enlighten her, she quickly took her 
leave. 

[...] 

On Tue. forenoon (16 Sept.) with E. to Volk und Welt, where she delivered a 
quarter of her Roumain translation and made a big impression when she 
introduced herself. [. . .] 10,000 copies of LTI have been printed (price 8.50M, 
royalties presumably 12,500M, but the taxes!), next year a further 10,000 are 
planned. [. . .] At the Stettin Station at 5 p.m., palpitations, when our legitimate 
claim to seats was not at first recognised. [. . .] 

But then - just before midnight - the welcome in Greifswald! [. . .] An elegant 
car, the registrar, Jacoby the dean. Jacoby merely greeted us, E. with a kiss on 
the hand, requested that I call on him the next day, disappeared. [. . .] Wohlge- 
muth, the registrar, 93 slim man of indefinable age with almost grey hair en 
brosse, charming, firm, immediately a comrade. We were at once on first-name 
terms, and really everything was decided from the first moment - but always 
the weight on my mind because of E. We were driven to the Ear Hospital, and 
we had a nice meal - cold hospital ersatz coffee and sandwiches we had brought, 
got to bed late. 

Then Wednesday, 17 Sept., brought the decision. The offer we were made was 
such, that I could not refuse it. The villa with a front garden, a plot of land 


October 1947 


219 


nearby, furniture and kitchen appliances etc. which will become my property, 
in part [other] newly made furniture at a reasonable price, pajok and potato 
deliveries, appreciably more money than Dresden [...]. Only literary history 
lecture courses, no more than six hours a week. I am to be appointed to the 
chair of 'Romance Literatures'. E. seemed by turns pleased and very depressed. 
My conscience is not clear, but again and again I think that I have made 
the right decision. [. . .] We called on Jacoby, with whom I talked over my 
appointment. Wohlgemuth had told me he was altogether deutschnational [i.e. 
an old-fashioned nationalist], and his wife was from an East Prussian noble 
family, a Countess Kalckreuth or something. So Jacoby said to me: 'My dear 
colleague, we want to win you back to the side of scholarship!' [. . .] 

Early on Friday the 19th to Anhalter Station [in Berlin]. At first seats only in 
the corridor, afterwards comfortably in a carriage for travellers going on to the 
Balkans. Home at 1 .30. A stack of post. Requests for lectures from every direction. 
[...] 


24th September , Wednesday morning. At the Kahanes', Berlin 

Since Sunday I have been completely encapsulated in the [Party] congress, 
which closes this evening, and leading a monotonous, very taxing life. [. . .] It 
remains deadly enough [...]. Five days are hard, especially after preceding local 
and district and Saxon conferences. 

[••.] 

The themes: Two points are crucial. 1) Tulpanov's speech, behind which is 
Vyshinsky's UN speech. 94 This is the beginning of the war against the USA, this 
removes the muzzle from us. I remember how I was not allowed to give my 
Dachau report in May. And now! The talk is of the two Americas - les deux 
Frances - les deux Allemagnes. The term 'monopoly capitalism' is from now on 
a pillar of the LQI, as a specialist term it has of course been around for a long 
time. [. . .] The theme of the West [i.e. of delegates from the Western zones], also 
that of the East, of course, was: SED in all zones, a free Ruhr, a united Germany. 
Theme 1 therefore, against the USA, for Russia, against Soviet-baiting. Theme 2: 
Inner unity. Theme 3: Against Schuhmacher. He was repeatedly represented as 
seducer, seducee, traitor, also as an ignoramus [e.g. with respect to Lenin]. [. . .] 
Theme 4: Mobilisation of women for all political posts. Many women were 
allowed to speak, in part they spoke in cliches, but some also very well on 
more general (West) topics. Theme 5: Winning over the peasantry. Strongly 
emphasised. Th. 6: Youth, only touched on. Th. 7: Culture, schools, universities. 
All only touched on, all good intentions expressed, also self-criticism. [. . .] 


1st October , Wednesday forenoon. Dresden 

I only just now completed my notes on the Party Congress, I am far too worn- 
out, swamped, tired and restless, doing too many things at once - at the same 
time happy and always imbued with only the one prayer, may heaven grant me 
another couple of years - because the possibilities of making an impact are great 


220 


The Lesser Evil 


and varied, and I place many hopes in Greifswald. I shall certainly not get down 
to concentrated deskwork before that - lecture after lecture, conference after 
conference, visit after visit. [. . .] 

Afternoon about 6 p.m. (1st Oct.) 

From 12 until about 5 Dr Weise was here, he had come over on my account. 
Romanist, interpreter, before the 2nd World War language assistant at Bordeaux 
Univ., student of Vossler, Hatzfeld, took his doctorate with Gelzer, now senior 
figure at Teubner. The timetable for Mod. French Prose is clear - by 15 Nov. I shall 
deliver the old 2nd edition almost unchanged with a foreword. We are still 
fighting over the Literary History; for the 18th Century I have allowed myself 
to be pushed back to 800 pp, for the 19th and 20th centuries I am sticking to 
1000 pp and am rejecting any abridgement of the extant text. - The planned 
periodical became more tangible. I suggested Humanism in its double meaning 
as a title 95 - what has just occurred to me, since Teubner are holding on to 
the Neue Jahrbiicher [New Yearbooks] is Humanistische Jahrbiicher [Humanist 
Yearbooks] with an introductory study on 'Humanism' by me. 

[...] 


6th October , Monday evening. Dresden 

Towards evening yesterday I was also called over to Frau Schmidt. [Her daughter] 
Traute Schmidt, recommended by me to Greifswald as a student of dentistry, 
had been refused by the [state] government in Schwerin, but the rector wanted 
to propose her once again. [. . .] I dictated a letter of recommendation to the 
rector. Today one of the Zabel twins came to see me: the girls have been refused 
by Leipzig. I promised to get them into Greifswald as medical students; she 
pressed my hands to her face and wept. [. . .] then Frau Ahrens and her daughter 
from Quackenbriick turned up and cost me the whole long afternoon [...]. 
Awkward and interesting about this visit was their absolute support of the West, 
of England and Schuhmacher, their conviction of the pure Hitlerism of the 
Russians, of the 'coolie' situation of the East Germans dependent on them, of 
the mendacity of Soviet propaganda, of the well-meaning democratism of 
Truman and the English, of Russian blame for the blocking of the zonal bound- 
aries and the difficulties at the UN. In every respect the Ahrenses thought us as 
ill-informed and as pig-headed as we them, it was utterly impossible to find 
something to agree about, to come to any understanding. At the same time 
personally we remained very friendly. [. . .] East and West Germany have become 
not so much hostile brothers as strangers to one another. 


9th October , Thursday afternoon 

We are both rushed off our feet, by turns happy and downcast. Greifswald 
should help. [. . .] 'We want to win you back to the side of scholarship,' Jacoby 
said. He is not entirely wrong, and I hope he will not be entirely wrong in the 
end. - 66 years old today. How much longer? What will be completed? - Most 


October 1947 


221 


courteous congratulatory telegram from the Aufbau publishing house. Most 
charming letter from Weise at Teubner ( not for my birthday, just like that). My 
Lit. Hist, has not yet been fitted in. But everyone is exerting themselves on my 
behalf. [. . .] Very curious birthday mood in me: 66, frequent bad pains [. . .] 
tiredness - and yet more activity than ever and flattered vanity and plans and 
fulfilment, very strange. And all this extra life is a pure gift, because really I 
should have been dead long ago . . . And what is this gift worth? What will its 
worth be to me a second after my end?? [. . .] 

[. . .] On Wed. at 2 p.m. meeting of the district committee and of the delegates 
at Albertplatz: evaluation of the Party congress. Length 6 hours. 2 - until almost 
8. At first I slept a lot, then became more lively. [. . .] The most interesting thing: 
at the close of the meeting the list of some 20 to be expelled. The commission 
has resolved, the meeting has to decide. Where the charge was theft and the 
like, it was over in a second. But there were a couple of unclear, at least unclearly 
formulated cases, accusations of Nazi attitude, few and far from unprejudiced 
witnesses. Here there were repeated objections by conscientious people, which 
were usually granted. (Investigate once again, formulate, submit!) To me that 
very much spoke for the assembly as a whole. [. . .] 


ISth October, Wednesday forenoon 
Evening 10 p.m. 

On the regional broadcasting station I heard that Plievier really has gone to 
Munich. In an interview there he said that he had been forced to remain silent 
for 1 1 years and now wanted to live in a country in which he was allowed to 
say everything. At the same time I learned that Erik Mauthner has been in the 
West since 18 September [...]. It is very upsetting for me that the whole of the 
intelligentsia is going over to the other side like this. But we must, we must 
hold on to our position and I still believe - not in the pure idealism and the 
blamelessness of the Russians, but that their cause, regarded ideally, is the better 
one, and regarded practically, is, in the long term the winning one. 

[...] 


21st October, Tuesday forenoon. (-4°, since yesterday late autumn in 
earnest) 

[...] 

Eva has completed her Jacques Roumain and is just now sending the ms to 
the Sachsenverlag publishing house, which as early as tomorrow will have it 
passed on to Volk and Welt by courier. Teubner has also proposed I send my 
Mod. French Prose there 'by courier'. Back to the Middle Ages ...[...] 


23rd October, Thursday forenoon 

[...] 

Yesterday morning - a hike and an expedition for me - at the TH. [. ..] 


222 


The Lesser Evil 


Curious, how I never, never in all of these 2 years, went into action again at the 
TH. - Vanitas vanitatum: I can hardly bear to admit to myself, what a relief it 
is to me, that now at the end of my life I have after all obtained a university 
chair. Even if only in the Eastern Zone and there at the smallest university. 

[...] 

I began the excruciating job of mending the Modem Prose. [. . .] 


25th October *, midday Saturday 

Yesterday morning I wrote at length to Teubner, that it was impossible for me 
to leave the 'Introduction' to the Modem Prose unchanged or to re-edit it with 
only a few corrections. Instead an open avowal of the changed objective and 
subjective situation! I wonder whether they will agree. 

The rest of the day was completely lost. Eva Schulze came and drew me until 
3 and of course prohibited me - after saying something else beforehand! - from 
wearing glasses and from moving, and the torture is to be repeated on Tuesday. 
She turned me not only into a sleepy old man but also into the most hopeless 
pessimist. [. . .] 

Then [. . .] I exerted myself almost entirely in vain with a volume of essays 
borrowed from Buttig 'Argernis und Zuversicht' [Scandal and Trust] which circles 
with pompous words around Existentialism. Existentialism and genuine are the 
fashionable words [...]. Again and again: everything philosophical and every- 
thing mystical simply does not go into my head, I am quite helpless in this 
respect. How often it made me anxious in the last few years before my dismissal: 
[...]. During the Hitler years it was sometimes almost a comfort that I had come 
to the end after all . . . And now, with the increased demands of the university 
chair and after I have learned nothing new and forgotten so much, I am going 
to take up the game again! I am sometimes shaken by fear. On the other hand: 
I would have very quickly used myself up here. [. . .] 


29th October , Wednesday evening 

4 or 5 times a week we have a power cut from 5-8 p.m. I am already quite used 
to dosing or sleeping through this time in an easy chair. That makes about 75 
hours a month to be deducted from the remainder of my life. [. . .] 


30th October, Thursday forenoon 

[. . .] What is happening with Greifswald? What with trip to the West? What 
will happen to the Modern Prose? In addition domestic hardships: no packet 
for months (plural), shortage of coal, lighting cuts. Health problems: E. very 
pale, very thin, very exhausted - I: [. . .] My heart, my neck and recently worry 
again about the place where the suspected cancer was operated. [. . .] 

Gladewitz said yesterday: 'Why is it? The shabbiest atrocity tales of the Nazis 
were believed. And now? 100 witnesses, the firmest proof of the awfulness of 
the concentration camps etc. To no avail! None of it is supposed to be true, is 


November 1947 


223 


at least thought to be "exaggerated", we are not getting through!' - That is the 
hopelessness of our situation. No VVN can help there. 


31st October , Friday towards evening 

[. . .] Yesterday evening '30 Years Soviet Union' in the Vier Jahreszeiten [Four 
Seasons] Inn, Radebeul. Small unpleasant adventure on the way there. On 
Grossenhainer Str. two Russians want to halt the car, are already about to open 
the door. The driver accelerates. Immediately the comrade travelling with me: 
'Bend down! He's going for his revolver!' But nothing more happened . . . 'Why 
did you drive on?' - 'They might have thrown us out and then we would 
perhaps have been without a car!' - I spoke to SED officials and their families. 
Music before and after, passages from Mayakovsky's October poem - a very 
young man read amateurishly and pronounced 'oranges' with a hard g. I spoke 
in between, was rather more radical than planned [...]. But passable on the 
whole. One worker said to me: 'I could have listened to you for hours,' my 
companion from the car: 'it was something different for once from the same 
old stuff the Party secretaries give us' . . . But nevertheless I feel how with this 
constant talking I am going to waste intellectually. It really must be reduced, I 
want 'to win myself back to the side of scholarship'. 

I consider the many Soviet Union celebrations altogether inopportune. They 
make the mood worse. Or at least they blunt people. 

I now have to go to the Hygiene Museum, where a Col. Dymshits (SMA) 96 is 
speaking. The meeting is organised jointly by the Kulturbund and the Society 
for Soviet Culture. 


1st November, Saturday morning 

[Dymshits meeting] [. . .] The place was full, all the VIPs there. I had to talk 
to a great number of people. Made the acquaintance of Comrade Dr Lobe, 
somewhat self-confident younger lady, as a city departmental head she is 
Lotte's superior and recently came into conflict with her a little, on which 
occasion Lotte seems to have waved her big uncle's wooden slippers . . . Our 
conversation was very friendly, I repeatedly said 'Comrade Lobe', she said 
she had been sitting very close to me at the Party Congress in Berlin; with 
respect to Lotte: she is already a senior physician, definitely listed and paid 
as such [. . .] Lotte was present at the meeting, but afterwards I did not manage 
to catch her and later telephoned her with news of the success. I am now 
consciously pursuing family politics: Lotte Sussmann-Klemperer, Doris Machol- 
Klemperer. Vanitas vanitatum of the first order. If I could imagine that father 
and my brothers were watching through a hole in the sky, it would be even 
more pleasant. The difficulties of the way home - no car, my heart, my spine - 
deflated me. 


224 


The Lesser Evil 


2nd November ; Sunday evening 

In the morning Schottlander, our tenant, was here to dig the garden and play 
piano. Made a lengthy and withering critique of my lecture in the student 
house [...]. The historical part shallow and without sociological, economic etc. 
knowledge, the directly political part - T would not have opened the university 
yet' - offensive and 'naive'; I should stay away from politics, which I did not 
understand and return to scholarship. My LTI lecture in Berlin had been very 
good, this one here very bad. - I was very depressed, especially as there are so 
many hitches at the moment. - In the afternoon visit by Lotte Sussmann. Told 
me good things about my LTI book, about the Zion chapter, and thus consoled 
me. [. . .] 


3rd November, 1 a.m. Monday night 

[. . .] Everything is all right, we can come [to Greifswald] on 1 Dec. - Load off 
my chest. But not for long. Then the weight of worries again. Recently above 
all: that I cannot speak French. 

Letter from Teubner. Want the Modem Prose as unchanged as possible, want 
if possible no declaration of principle, since 'the transformation of a view of 
history is self-evident'. I wrote back: it is not self-evident, on the contrary, 
nationalist sentiments were smouldering among the students again. Either I 
would have to nail my colours to the mast, and explicitly distance myself from 
the 1926 edition, or leave the book buried. [. . .] I was very afraid, that will break 
my connection with Teubner, also with respect to the Literary History. But I had 
to write uncompromisingly. 

[...] 


8th November, Saturday forenoon and later 

[Trip to Berlin on Kulturbund business: the KB had been banned in the American 
sector of Berlin from 5 Nov.] 

Just now on the wireless - it is 10 o'clock Saturday evening - the KB has also 
been banned in the English sector of Berlin. Perhaps it's a good thing. It will 
now become even more emphatically pro-Russian. 

[...] 

Early this morning [in Dresden again] call from Leipzig, Dr Weise at Teubner 
(cf 3 Nov.). He's eating humble pie, our conceptions can be combined, and he 
has really given me a free hand. I triumph and am up to my neck in work. 

[•••] 


10th November, Monday evening 

Yesterday [. . .] afternoon commemoration of 'Crystal Night' (who invented the 
phrase? 97 ) organised by the VVN in the Hygiene Museum. There by car with 
the Wolffs. The place packed. All the VIPs: Koenen, His Excellency Fischer, 


November 1947 


225 


etc. - I was among them. Vanitas. Loewenkopf and Geschke spoke - the usual. 
Lewinsky and Lowen, the actress, recited [...]. 

After that I went to the ministry to initiate the interzonal pass from Frankfurt. 
This gave rise to such a deal of bother, there turned out to be such a number of 
travel difficulties - it's an expedition, not a trip - that the effort expended would 
be quite disproportionate to this one lecture. [. . .] 

For a moment we had considered whether I should travel back via Munich 
and finally fetch the baggage, that is still stored there. This very morning a 
letter arrived from the Stiihlers, sent from Bremen on 24 Oct: by now they are 
probably already in the USA, want to go to San Francisco, write very bitterly 
about Catholic anti-Semitic Bavaria. Our baggage is now in the attic of Lisl's 
sister, Frau Fuchs [...]. It then occurred to me that there was a very great risk of 
losing the baggage again when crossing the border. How should I prove, that it 
is property for personal use. Expensive ladies' woollen things in my masculine 
hands! A pitiful piece of cultural history, this abandoned trip, this untrans- 
portable baggage in Bavaria, lying there for 2\ years now! 

[...] 


12th November , Wednesday evening 

Violent storm, for the second day now. Storm warning because of the toppling 
ruins. 

[..J 

Yesterday from 6-9 p.m. Party officials' meeting at the Bienertmuhle. Insight 
into day-to-day work. [. . .] Against the slanders on the Russians. (I spoke). About 
the wood campaign. Swindles of the small wood merchants . . . Edmund Muller, 
the red Jew [...], trustee of a factory takes deliveries of agricultural produce from 
peasants out of their family use allocations [...]. I was asked privately as to my 
opinion. I advocated especially harsh action, because as a Jew he has special 
responsibilities. The barter deals here were already being called 'Jewish deals'; 
in Lisl Stiihler's farewell letter of 10 Nov. she says she heard on a Munich tram 
'dirty Jew!' What use are all the Crystal Night commemorations against that? 


29th November , Saturday. Dresden 

The day before yesterday, 27 Nov., I made the packet of Modem French Prose 
ready for Teubner, it is to be picked up by a courier. In the accompanying letter 
I wrote: definitive version, I shall change nothing more. [. . .] 

[...] 

On Mon. morning, 24 Nov., to the TH (my last appearance) rectorial election 
dramatically protracted in the 4th act. Heidebroek's event. I hate him, because 
HE is definitively to blame for the elimination of my chair. HE insinuated 
to Soviet Headquarters in Karlshorst, that we do not need a linguistic etc. 
philosophical faculty, a technical university. He wants to be sole ruler of the 
plumbers. [. . .] Aside from that LDP and chairman of the House of Technology 


226 


The Lesser Evil 


and very smart. Thanks to his autocratic fiddling around he had made an enemy 
of the whole Education Faculty. He evidently did not want the election. [. . .] 
Set for 10 o'clock in the morning. All the professors, student representatives 
and assistants present, about 50 people in all. Rector announces: an objection 
had come from the SMA, request for details from Karlshorst under way, new 
time 12.30. Everyone suspects some plot. I spent the intervening time in a 
seminar room of our faculty, partly reading, partly chatting to Schottlander. 
[. . .] After that the election. A huge 'urn', in fact a monstrous box borrowed 
from the city, which can hold several 1000 ballots. [. . .] Result: 49 valid votes, 
40 for Straub, the Education dean [. . .], CDU; 6 for Heidebroek [...]. Now the 
battle is about whether Heidebroek automatically becomes Prorector. If there is 
an election, he will lose this position also. 

[...] 

In the evening there was a big Bloc meeting for 'Unity'. [. . .] The big broad- 
casting studio was packed, there were knots of people along the sides and in 
the corners. In complete contrast to the usual emptiness and indifference. 
Afterwards Hose 98 told me in all innocence, gentle pressure had been used to 
get people here from all the factories. Exactly the Nazi method, therefore. 
Whom is one deceiving? Oneself. Autosuggestion. 

On the evening of Thurs., the 27th, my farewell party in the elegant house 
of the Soviet Society. I was present at the setting up of the society, later I 
somehow lost touch, I received no invitations, was out of the picture . . . 
Reingruber, our Kulturbund deputy and simultaneously Prorector of the TH 
picked us up in his car. The affair was poorly organised and rather measly. Some 
30 people had been invited, a number sent excuses, others stayed away without 
excuse; the little band of about 15 people was lost in the big dining room, the 
huge horseshoe table had been laid for about 30 [. . .] Renn welcomed me, 
Kneschke gave a lengthy speech, likewise Reingruber, Frau Heidenberger, the 
town clerk, gave a shorter speech on behalf of the city. I received an address 
signed by Weidauer and Rentzsch and a basket of flowers with it, another basket 
of flowers from the Kulturbund, a packet of cigarettes from the Soviet Society, 
a portfolio of art by the painter Bodenthal whom I do not know and to whom 
I am completely indifferent. I gave a speech. [. . .] I came home fairly depressed. 
(I also said [in the speech]: at such a jubilee one was like a corpse which was 
allowed to express its feelings. But there was nothing to fear [. . .].) 

During the day I had worked on a speech for the Dresden-Leipzig broadcasting 
station about the 'People's Congress' [for Unity and Just Peace, called for 6 Dec. 
1947] - I read it to Kneschke over the telephone, he found it too harsh towards 
Jacob Kaiser," I toned down. [. . .] At 3, as had been agreed, the broadcasting 
station car picked us both up, I spoke my thing in a few minutes, and now the 
car was supposed to take us to Elsa Kreidl at 15b Caspar David Friedrichstr. The 
car had meanwhile 'gone just to the parliament'. We waited in vain for f of an 
hour, then walked all the way to the tramcar, and again from Wasaplatz to Elsa 
K. A walk and visit full of memories - what a turn of events. I thought of the 
dead. [. . .] We sat by the light of a candle, got good tea and little cakes, 
chatted pleasantly and recovered. Home towards 8, immediately out again to 


December 1947 


227 


the neighbourhood group meeting in Cafe Dolzschen. [. . .] Forbrig gave a short 
farewell speech for me. 

LQI words: Frankfurt the German Vichy or the Vichy government. - Mon- 
opoly rulers. - Bizonesia, more mildly Bizonia. 100 [. . .] 

On Saturday 29 Nov. at 2 p.m. there was a VVN session in its new home on 
the Wilder Mann.. There were ten of us present, and surprisingly it was here 
that I was given a particularly cordial send off. Egon Rentzsch gave a very warm 
speech, presented me with a nice address and, with dedications, the two art 
books published by the Sachsenverlag: the Daumier and the concentration- 
camp pictures of Leah Grundig. - Afterwards during the actual meeting I spoke 
very pessimistically about the mood of young people and met with complete 
agreement, and Clemens Dolitzsch, with whom I have not always seen eye to 
eye, added remarks. Afterwards there was a car to take me home [...]. 


3rd December , Wednesday evening about 11 p.m. Dresden. 

Berlin KB trip (2nd/3rd Dec.) 

[...] 

It was also emphasised on all sides, that everyone knew the formal reason 
[for the American prohibition of the Kulturbund] was a pretext, the Americans 
simply did not like The SED orientation'. [. . .] I said: it was not that we were 
pro-Russian in our attitude, rather the Russians were the only ones who were 
pro-German and pro-Kulturbund. [. . .] Then the People's Congress was also 
discussed. His Magnificence Stroux, looks like three philistines gone mouldy, 
spoke warmly in favour, 'although that, too, could be reckoned against us as 
SED partiality'. Ackermann on behalf of the Party: it was only issuing the 
invitations, was only the initiator, was keeping in the background. The KB - 
incidentally less than half the committee was there, I have the impression, that 
everything is fixed within a small circle, 35 of 40 Executive Committee members 
are supernumerary, Becher, Willmann, Gysi, Kleinschmidt do everything, even 
Friedensburg [CDU mayor of Berlin] and Stroux are only objects, admittedly 
ones that have to be taken account of. [. . .] 

Thurs. aft. 4 Dec 

On the morning of 2 Dec. I travelled to Berlin by train. [. . .] At Potsdamer 
Station at midday, by foot to the KB. After ejection from the British Sector the 
offices now at 1 Jagerstr. My room, apartment in the expensive and inhospitable 
Adlon - a chambermaid found a thick eiderdown for me, so at least I did not 
freeze for all that money. From there to Neues Leben [periodical of the youth 
organisation, FDJ]. Schlesinger, whom I like very much. We chatted for a long 
time. The Culture booklet is to cost 2.50. Since I get a share of 10% and 30,000 
copies have been printed, I'm rich. [. . .] 

Schlesinger gave me a car out to Anny Kl's. I came upon her and Peter over a 
late lunch, got a splendid pea soup and real coffee, was able to buy a kilo of 
peas for 50M. We both had to laugh at the turn of events when Anny explained 
she had only 10M in the house and would not receive a rent payment until the 


228 


The Lesser Evil 


7th and I, on my side, offered her money - ('what would Beo [Berthold] say?!' - 
'He would have learned to think differently too!'). Peter accompanied me to the 
station of the elevated railway, we agreed he would call for me at the club to go 
to the cinema [...]. Shrouded in swathes of fog and drizzling rain we walked 
along Friedrichstr. as far as Oranienburger Tor. Darkness, destruction [. . .] but 
in between also inhabited houses, traffic, not the complete deadness of central 
Dresden ... A small cinema. [. . .] Peter, very long-haired, good-looking boy, 
something artistic about his whole appearance, 2nd semester, wants to be a 
psychiatrist - 1 also saw a pretty picture of his brother's, Georg's, fiancee, Jewish, 
organist, at present a correspondence clerk in Zurich, where he has become - 
presumably unpaid - an assistant at the TH. Peter asked me what it had been 
like in my parents' home, how I had got on with my brothers and sisters. I 
briefly pointed to the tensions, in addition the tremendous change in notions 
of propriety and in the position of women since the beginning of the century. 

[. . .] At midnight Peter accompanied me to the door of the Adlon ruin. (All 
these walks without pain, the next day also, but then around 3 p.m. on the few 
steps to Unter den Linden all hell was let loose and I felt again, how much of 
my time has run out.) . . . The next morning [. . .] to Volk and Welt on Taubenstr. 
There Frau Herrmann and Tschesno himself were most profuse in their praise 
of E.'s Roumain translation. So sensitive and 'musical'. An actress is soon to give 
a reading of passages from V & W books. E.'s translation is to take its proper 
place there, precisely the translation itself. E. was very pleased by this pro- 
fessional praise. I emphasise everywhere (that is, to Schlesinger, to Tschesno, 
recently to Henschel), that is her widow's pension, they should give her com- 
missions. 

[...] 

5th December 1947, Friday evening towards midnight. Dresden 

Yesterday evening E. got the shakes out of exhaustion and aversion. In the 
middle of the night at 4 o'clock she told me bitterly, once she had been chased 
out of her home by the Gestapo and had lost everything because of the air raid, 
now she was being chased out again, and what was left and what had been 
newly accumulated would be stolen from her. It was very painful for me. Have 
I sacrificed her contentment to my vanity? Perhaps yes - but perhaps I have 
nevertheless acted rightly and also to E.'s advantage. [. . .] 


7th December, Sunday afternoon. Dresden 

The hateful and truly nerve-racking peripeteias of the business of moving. The 
railways failed us: we should hire a remover tomorrow, but really tomorrow, 
then the things could go express and be insured. But where to get a remover so 
quickly? And where is the security? The higher the insurance, the greater the 
incentive to theft . . . 'Yes, Professor, the best thing is for the Party to supply a 
truck!' Sheer mockery; the Party will not give me any petrol whatsoever. Then 
this morning came deliverance. On the steps of the Hygiene Museum Egon 


December 1947 


229 


Rentzsch gave me his word, he will have the chests, which we can leave here, 
brought to Greifswald, right to our new address, by a municipal truck which 
has to fetch potatoes from Mecklenburg. Hopefully - I consider Rentzsch to be 
particularly conscientious - that will work out well. [. . .] Now after the transport 
of the chests has been halfway assured, Wolff, who is supposed to drive us, who 
was supposed to be back from Berlin yesterday evening, has not (4 p.m.) turned 
up yet. [. . .] 


8th December , Monday [. . .] 

[. . .] Chaos. We shall hardly get to bed. - 2 packets even arrived, one from 
Denmark, 22 lbs, one the mysterious dried fruits from Australia - from the 
editor whom we do not know, to whom Blumenfeld sent one of our letters, 
and whom Lore Petzal-Isakowitz 101 mentioned as her friend. Piccolo mondo 
moderno. 102 We are taking both packets with us unopened . . . The car will be 
overloaded. [. . .] 

The beginning of a completely new period of our life therefore 


230 


The Lesser Evil 


Greifswald 9th December 1947-23 August 1948 

IF ONLY! 

[The months in Greifswald were not happy ones for the Klemperers; never- 
theless, at the age of 66 Victor Klemperer had at last achieved his goal of a chair 
at a proper university, and Greifswald was to prove only a brief intermezzo in 
his Indian summer of an academic career, though there were to be dis- 
appointments and losses enough - academically and otherwise.] 

I have always told myself: one day after the wedding you know it all! I know 
today, I've known it since 9 Dec., the first day here: it was the worst mistake, I 
have gambled away the evening of both our lives. 

14/12/4 7. 

That's what things looked like in the morning. And now in the aft. it is a little 
bit warm here in the bedroom and the real coffee has warmed us, and the 
tomcat is purring, and so one tells oneself - as long as the coffee effect lasts - 
'perhaps ad astra 103 after all!' But then, when the effect of the coffee has worn 
off and the stove has grown cold: see above di nuovo. 

Sunday 14/12/47 


14th December 1947, Sunday afternoon. 8 Pommemdamm, 
Greifswald 

From the very first moment things went badly. The packing took the whole 
night, we did not get to bed at all. Wolff appeared shortly after 5. Since his wife 
was coming along - an act of reconciliation, which I myself had encouraged - 
it was impossible to take all the hand luggage. E., embittered and harassed, re- 
packed some things. It then turned out, that some of the most important items, 
stockings for E., my shaving stuff, underwear for both of us, had been left 
behind. We have now been suffering because of that for almost a week, and an 
end to the suffering is not in sight. A suitcase and a kind of seabag, both 
unlocked, are lying in Dresden - we do not know to whom to entrust them. In 
addition, with the constant robberies, constant anxiety about all the chests . . . 
We were very cramped in the car, in a very depressed mood as we drove through 
ice and fog. [. . .] At the registry at around 5 p.m.: Franz Wohlgemuth, Otto 
Jurgens - to the Ear Clinic, Erich Kaiser, Isolde Meinhardt (Dr Dr). Supper, room 
like the first time, the Wolffs as well. During the night E.'s bitterness, the next 
morning the beginning of the disappointments, which have not ceased since. 

Wolff charged me 559. 50M for the 'friendship trip'. Here at Pommemdamm 
the new brick stoves (one plastered, 2 not) sweated water; it was beastly cold 
and completely inhospitable; the first pieces of furniture have just arrived, all 
old and chipped, from the estate of an anatomy professor arrested by the 
Russians, not one piece new, although I had been promised new furniture which 
could be purchased, utterly inadequate tableware, a single huge cooking pot . . . 
Chaos, dreariness, damp discomfort everywhere. And that is how it has 


December 1 947 


231 


remained. Not until yesterday evening did we move over here from the clinic, 
are still living, and presumably will do so for months to come, in chaos and 
cold and one room, are still, and that for almost a week now, not properly 
washed, shaved, have not brushed our teeth, are still in the grubby conditions 
of refugee life, are most deeply disappointed. The days run into one another, we 
are kept busy and do nothing. Until yesterday, as I said, we were accommodated 
entirely in the clinic, last night here for the first time under many blankets, but 
for lunch and through the afternoon over there again with Kaiser-Meinhardt 
for hours. 

Apart from the desperations and exhaustions - both Eva's and my health is 
suffering badly, many pains, also E.'s heart is giving way, and in my case 
excruciating lumbago has been added to neck and angina - also more agreeable 
things. The Kaisers feed us very well, help in every possible way, likewise 
Wohlgemuth (although it is really he who has let us down with respect to 
housing, but he says it was impossible to do more!), Jurgens and Roethe, the 
head of personnel, Frau Dunkel, the university's household superintendent. 

On Wednesday evening, before the elections to the student council, there 
was a meeting of the SED students in the refectory. Struck, the dean of the 
education faculty, spoke about the People's Congress. I spoke after him. Poche 
ma sentite parole. 'You must learn more than the others!' 

University politics conversations with Franz [Wohlgemuth]. 'Conspiratorial 
group' - sworn society: A very full discussion with Franz and Dr Muller, the 
assistant secretary and department head in Schwerin [administrative capital of 
the Land of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern] responsible for the university. He 
offered me his post, I turned it down. At issue is, whether I become dean or 
rector or nothing at all. At issue, as in Saxony, as since May 45, is the breaking 
of the both secret and noisy obstruction and opposition [in the universities], 
which relies on the democratic principle of self-government. I always preach 
the same thing. Will I have more success in Mecklenburg than in Saxony? I 
doubt it. But the attempt must be made. On Tuesday I am to go to Schwerin 
with Franz and set forth my views to the minister. Jacoby has a bad reputation 
as being sly and obstinate, he takes cover behind his deafness; the rector, 
Seeliger, 104 whose acquaintance I have made, has the reputation of a 'nitwit'. 
He had not sent down a first lieutenant who had lied about his rank [. . .], merely 
giving him a severe reprimand. And similar cases. - Weidhaas, appointment as 
lecturer, member of the senate as representative of the non-professorial teach- 
ing staff, reports strong reactionary tendencies - Jacoby called on me at the 
clinic, tried to bring me round. Dornseif 105 should be his successor, I was still 
too new here, with respect to the rector he would give me a tip. I pretended 
innocence, let myself be advised. We sat in the stairwell of the clinic, doors 
opened because of our bellowing, even though they are used to quite a lot in 
the ear clinic after all. Franz said: 'They are afraid of you and are trying to take 
precautions.' His opinion: I should not immediately be put in an exposed 
position as rector, but appointed dean. Muller asked me, whether I would risk 
functioning as imposed rector. I: without drastic measures we would never reach 
our goal. [. . .] 


232 


The Lesser Evil 


The department looks as elegant and comfortable as our apartment looks bare 
and impossible. I have not yet managed to look around at leisure. 

This the real university news of the first week in Greifswald. The semester is 
ending now, and I shall start in April. 


16th December ; Tuesday forenoon. Greifswald 

Hopeless: damp walls and floorboards, damp wood, damp stoves - everything 
is lacking. Yesterday terrifically tormented by lumbago (or kidneys?). Today a 
little better in this respect. Damp sleety weather, very wet feet. Everything is 
lacking. E. ever paler. Because of her I reproach myself most desperately. 

Eating at the clinic - preliminary talks with the Party. [. . .] 

Empty days, full of despair. 

I look around the icy department, am provided with information [. . .] Every- 
thing appears wretched to me. I should have remained outsider, journalist, 
politician, myself. I have sacrificed everything to the damned, so very stupid 
vanity of being a university professor. And now I am nothing, just an 'SED 
prof.' And every student who knows Old French and Provencal looks down his 
nose at me. 


17th December, Wednesday forenoon 

[...] 

And constantly the terrible feeling of guilt towards E. 

[...] 

My reading for days: Georg Buchner, monograph by Hans Mayer 106 from the 
book packet from Volk and Welt. 

Since 8 Dec. without newspaper, without wireless - nothing but hearsay. The 
London Conference [of the 4 powers on the future of Germany] is supposed 
to have collapsed. 107 Now I suddenly learn about the Mecklenburg People's 
Congress 108 and that I have been delegated to it. What is the Mecklenburg 
Congress supposed to do? [. . .] 

Snow, freezing rain, storm, slush, ghastliness of the weather. 


19th December, Friday. Greifswald 
Yesterday Schwerin-Mecklenburg Congress [. . .] 

Journey by car with Wohlgemuth and Kaiser [...]. Departure at about 6 a.m., 
140 miles, route Stralsund, Rostock, Doberan, Wismar. I saw next to nothing, 
journey there half in darkness, return journey completely so. On the way out, 
until about Stralsund snow-covered road, then dry, on the way back snow 
flurries, ice, slow and dangerous driving. There 6-10.30, back 8-1. [. ..] In 
Doberan we were told, that the sea was just over a mile away - Heiligendamm. 
That provoked childhood memories, mother's golden watch lost in the fallen 
leaves of the wood, a boy found it and was allowed to go on the carousel. In 


December 1947 


233 


Schwerin the beautiful pond, our hotel on the motoring holiday with Grete! 109 
The very elegant theatre and museum square, the little ducal capital. [. . .] 

This time the pre-arranged demonstration game [i.e. the congress] was espe- 
cially empty and pointless, first of all as a warmed-up version of Berlin, after 
that as especially worn-out, and further and above all: completely without 
purpose after the failure of the London conference. Everything was built up on a 
mood of irredenta 110 and defiance. The Berlin delegation remains as [permanent] 
promoter of unity and peace, corresponding committees are being formed in 
every region, in every district, and are supposed to keep alive the demand for 
unity. How that can happen, is not said. [. . .] 

[. . .] Wohlgemuth said, I should speak for the university. I did not feel 
myself legitimated to do that. I said therefore: coming from the University of 
Greifswald, I was speaking as an old university teacher for old and young at the 
univ, and delivered a couple of sentences entirely about culture, for the re- 
establishment of which we, above all, were responsible, and about our one 
fatherland. There was a little applause [. . .] Then an already printed resolution 
was read out and accepted unanimously, then a list of 30 permanent committee 
people for unity and peace treaty - and once again I am also on this regional 
committee. - At 2.30 the awful shivering was over. [. . .] 


20th December , late afternoon , Saturday. Greifswald 
[. . .] Errands and repeatedly pointless errands. Begging for every little thing, for 
deep plates, shoe brushes, etc. etc. [. . .] Each blames the other, grumbles about 
the other, nothing is right; damp, smoking stoves, blizzards, cold - now almost 
two weeks in this state. - Yesterday aft. in the dean's office 'meeting of the 
faculty proper', 'introduction of Prof. Kl.' as first point. Only half a dozen people 
present, all of them natural scientists. Weidhaas, as representative of the non- 
professorial teaching staff, kept the minutes. Jacoby goes up to each speaker 
and holds up his ear trumpet, then one has to shout into it. The ear trumpet is 
his visor, he lowers it - then he's inaccessible, then one is at his mercy. [. . .] 


25th December, Thursday morning. Greifswald 

Christmas began terribly. In the morning on the way to the clinic - I was 
fetching my typewriter, had myself shaved, was given some fir branches - the 
worst pains I have had at any time recently. Then at home constantly the feeling 
of absolute isolation and the burden of the guilt towards E. . . . Then in the late 
afternoon Franz Wohlgemuth called. A real comfort to both of us, everything 
turns livelier and more hopeful again. [. . .] He invited us for New Year's Eve. He 
brought us the ms of his novella (only excerpts have appeared thus far) Pitiless. - 
Once he was gone, E. made a little Christmas tree out of wastepaper basket, 
stand, the fir twigs and three candles - one for each of us, little Moritz [the 
tomcat] as well. It stood on the desk in the study, which immediately no longer 
appeared so gloomily damp [...]. After the nice evening meal with meat I read 
Pitiless aloud in one go: the first time I have read aloud since the reading in the 


234 


The Lesser Evil 


wood in Unterbernbach. 111 (with the air planes above us). [. . .] 


26th December, Friday midday. Greifswald 

[After noting a dull Christmas dinner invitation] Picture postcards with New 
Year's greetings to Dolzschen etc. 

I am reading along with the Roumain proofreading, and thus for the first 
time E.'s opus; it truly is a work of literary adaptation. 


27th December, Saturday afternoon. Greifswald 

[To add to the Klemperers' sufferings Eva K. is suffering from both a skin 
complaint and boils exacerbated by inadequate washing facilities and poor 
diet.] 

[...] 

Letter from Teubner today, very happy with my Modem Prose. The letter is 
dated the 17th, a duplicate of the study [. . .] will be with the Culture Advisory 
Board 112 'even before the holiday'. A ray of hope - but the rays of hope no 
longer last very long. 


31st December, Wednesday morning, New Year's Eve. Greifswald 
Unchanged gloominess and tedium of outer and inner life. Quite tiny walks, a 
couple of times in the evening, to get a breath of air - E. complains about 
stomach pains, I about bones and heart - walks to get shaved, be alone. No 
relationship to any living soul in Greifswald, beached, beyond saving. Food 
packets have not come [...]. 

Wildly indiscriminate reading. [. . .] For the present my browsing and dipping 
into books is going in the 3 directions Revolution- 18ieme, recent French prose and 
the image of France all at the same time; only groping and sniffing at everything 
while feeling completely empty. At first I had been so tempted by 'scholarly' 
work again, and now this footnote and specialism business seems so musty and 
trivial. 

The Aufbau publishing house sent me, presumably as a Christmas present, 
without an accompanying letter a very fine bound copy of my LTI which is in 
paperback only for the general public. But in this fine volume the wretchedness 
of the paper and of the print is even more blatant than before. Apart from that 
one hears nothing of the LTI. Where are the 10,000 copies? In no bookshop, 
with no editors. No newspaper has taken any notice of it. 

What is my resume of 1947? LTI appeared and 'Culture' appeared (and both 
have not appeared, i.e. appear nowhere) and Modem Prose has been revised, and 
[there was] a mass of lectures, wireless broadcasts. And smashing of my position 
in Dresden and also in the Kulturbund. And Greifswald, which is making us 
both unhappy, Greifswald for which I am to blame. Because I wanted to be a 
university professor. 

Youth: You have everything before you. Age: it's all behind you. Youth: It does 


December 1947 


235 


not ask about the value of actions and events. Age: You ask about everything, and 
everything is without value. I think that even during the Nazi years I did not 
feel a New Year's Eve to be as dismal as this time. Because this time I bear the 
blame for the misery, and because I have dragged E. into this mess, and because 
I see no way out. 










1948 


1st January, Thursday evening. Greifswald 

We are living in exactly the same chaos and pigsty as yesterday - study, bedroom, 
dining room in one, ordures de matou 1 in front of the stove under my nose, 
when I lie in bed, because our little cat is without his box (where to get one? 
there are no cartons, never mind small boxes) - and yet we are both, really both 
of us in an altogether different mood since yesterday and now after all almost 
certain, that with Greifswald we made the right choice and have a future before 
us. - The evening with Franz Wohlgemuth, him, the lord mayor, Max Burwitz, 2 
the professor of the Education Faculty, Schmidt- Walter, 3 the young professor of 
chemistry whose name I have forgotten. In addition the wives of Wohlgemuth 
and Schmidt- Walter; less important but not a nuisance the refectory manageress. 
The tremendously warm, amusing, but altogether intellectual tone of the 
company. The greatest efforts on behalf of both of us. On behalf of E. as musician 
and comrade, on behalf of myself; the most definite assurance, that we are to 
have a position here, that we are being counted on. The first time that we sat 
in a little group, hatched plans . . . Most definite assurance, that there will now 
be progress with our apartment. In the near future a musical circle is to be 
formed around E. I myself am to get the post of dean - am in the meantime to 
play the gentle nothing-but-a-scholar until the election is over. Am already 
supposed to have done that successfully at the first faculty meeting. Jacoby, the 
reactionary old fox, had declared to Franz that he was very satisfied with my 
attitude and begged him to leave me to the world of scholarship. Fie would also 
thereby be doing the SED the best service, T had a European reputation'. On 
the other hand I heard again, my appearance in front of the Socialist students 
on the last evening of the semester had won their hearts. The Comrade Lord 
Mayor - 'Max' - paid me compliments, Schmidt- Walter likewise, E. was not 
neglected for a moment, we were both very content and our hopes have now 
held up for the whole day. [. . .] there was a great deal of liqueur, there was 


238 


The Lesser Evil 


potato salad with a little dumpling, there was punch and coffee, a proper warm 
pancake each and biscuits, there were cheese sandwiches, there were solemn 
little speeches - I had to start - gossip, conspiracies and memories of Russian 
and English captivity, there were many insights into the conditions and balance 
of forces here [. . .] finally E. tried out the piano, and well past 4 a.m. the whole 
company brought us home, Wohlgemuth was rather merry and very loudly 
declaimed Goethe's 'Prometheus' [...]. Firm snow has been lying on the streets 
since the start of New Year's Eve - literally overnight the damp weather has 
turned into a proper fine winter. I did not get away quite without pain, but on 
the whole even the march back was almost bearable. Almost at least - I just 
cannot get away without a memento any more. [. . .] Two telegrams had arrived 
in the late afternoon. One for E. - had the Roumain proofs been sent off [...]. 
One for me, signed Prime Minister [of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern] Hocker: 
Constituent meeting of the Committee 'for Unity and a Just Peace' 
(Mecklenburg) 11 a.m. Saturday 3 January Schwerin. Of course between me and 
Schwerin there is again the question of a car . . . [. . .] 

Stopped work very late today, during the day got to grips with Sartre's Nausee 4 

[...]. 

In every other respect relieved - but the worry about our baggage is becoming 
never-ending. Thus far Dresden has not sent its potato truck, because export 
from here was banned - and now, with the cold, it will not be possible to send 
it either. [. . .] 


10th January, Saturday forenoon. Greifswald 

Worse than the apartment, underwear etc. calamity is the dullness. There is no 
life in Greifswald, we are buried alive. We were far too used to the Dresden 
bustle. E., too, says: 'Meetings give me pleasure.' Here there are none: SED, 
VVN, FDGB etc. etc., nothing is in evidence, no one takes any notice of us. We 
are cut off from the world. The peace and quiet for scholarly work.' But that is 
so musty. And who will read my 'rigorously scholarly works'?? 2 dozen people, 
of whom 22 think them too journalistic. Whatever I want I fall between stools. 
[...] 

A large packet from Berthold Meyerhof; a small one from Otto Klemperer. 
Both of recent date. All the parcels between July and October appear to be lost. 


18th January, Sunday evening. Greifswald 

[...] 

I will shortly put together the list of my reading; all this reading is not useless, 
but it depresses me, appears to me narrow and trifling, does not help me get 
over the feeling of emptiness and deadness. On top of that E's complete misery. 
Sometimes she urges me: 'go to Dresden, see if you can get some kind of post 
there, perhaps you can take charge of the People's High School!' - But I consider 
that quite futile. And it would mean breaking my contract with the government 


January 1948 


239 


here; which will always shield its own failure behind higher authority. 

Nice here is only the department library. But it de- and oppresses me, I shall 
never manage to write anything here. [. . .] 


21st January, Wednesday forenoon. Greifswald (Berlin trip 19-20th. 
Mon. Tues.) 

Monday 

1) Volk und Welt - Tschesno. Enthusiasm for E/s Roumain. [. . .] 

2) Aufbau publishing house, a) Sonntag [periodical]. New editor, Hilprich or 
something like it. Does not know where my Rimbaud ms has got to [. . .] wants 
to turn the periodical into a newspaper [. . .] and short articles instead of essays, 
b) Gysi [for Aufbau, the principal periodical of the Kulturbund]: accepted the 
abridged Auerbach review to be printed very quickly; we agreed 3 pages on 
Deiters' Sainte-Beuve [. ..] which has just been published [...]. c) Wendt. LTI 
still at the binders, not on sale, not with the review editors. [. . .] At all KB 
offices, as well as at the Jagerstr. club, I complained about Greifswald, about my 
being neglected both with respect to housing and professionally. People will try 
to help in various ways [...]. 

3) Neues Leben publishing house. - Mystery of the Culture pamphlet. Objec- 
tion. By the Russians? By the 'Cultural Advisory Board? For what reason? 
Schlesinger on leave, nervous collapse. [. . .] I resolved to call on the Cultural 
Advisory Board, both name and institution itself I know thanks to my Modem 
Prose. 

4) Anny Klemperer. Wolff has not taken the hand luggage there. [. . .] Peter 
absent. Is supposed to be more passionately devoted to politics than to medicine, 
of which only psychoanalysis interests him. Anny very warm as always, very 
confiding, frank on money matters. [. . .] To Kahane, ADN [news agency] to 
whom I had earlier spoken on the telephone. 

5) [. . .] Mackie has been in London. [. . .] Doris has been in bed for 3 weeks. 
She is in her 7th month, a growth, worries about the child, yet fair state of 
health . . . Evening and Tue. morning in Niederschonhausen. [. . .] 

Tuesday 

6) Jagerstr. i.e. office and club of the KB. aj Cordial meeting with Heinz 
Willmann. [. . .] I also communicated what Mackie had told me: that Arnold 
Zwei g 5 feels very uncomfortable in Palestine, as well as in a bad financial 
situation and is offended not to have received any invitation to Germany. 
Willmann: they had already tried to get in touch with him, they wanted to re- 
publish his books. It was impossible to make contact with Palestine. (I know 
that from my own experience with Walter Jelski and with Sebba.) b) At 11 there 
was a meeting of Kulturbund secretaries. Before that I had breakfast with Karl 
Kneschke [. . .] Very cordial. I told him how much I would like to return to 
Dresden as soon as possible, and how I would accept any post in the government, 
the city, the Party, unless or until my Dresden professorship were re-activated. 


240 


The Lesser Evil 


He showed a great deal of sympathy and will use his influence to that end . . . 

[...] 

7) Cultural Advisory Board, Unter den Linden, House of the 'International 
Book Shop' (Russian). [Here Klemperer learns that there are no problems con- 
cerning his Modem Prose or any supplementary volume, but he emerges none 
the wiser as to what the objections to his 'Culture' pamphlet might be.] 

8) Central Administration Wilhelmstr. No luck. [. . .] I went on foot along 
Leipzigerstr. to Spittelmarkt. Shaken to see, on a ruined building, the new gold 
letters Conditorei Hillbrich. As a student how many bittersweet hours of drinking 
coffee with Berthold, who had his office nearby. 

9) 11 Oberwasserstr., Volk und Wissen [People and Knowledge] publishing 
house [responsible for school and other educational books. [. . .] 

10) Yet another important result: the Kahanes have lent me a couple of 
examples of very recent French literature (Editions de Minuit: Vercors 6 etc.), 
know a bookshop in Berlin, which could make my department regular com- 
prehensive offers. Prices are supposed to be high (but not quite prohibitive), a 
lot can be done with a couple of hundred marks, and for that I have Wohlge- 
muth's assent. 

[. . .] On the return journey at the train at 3.30, which left at 5 - yet no seat left. 
Only from Prenzlau. Impossible to read. Every woman, young and old, smokes. 
A young one opposite me with a little boy was rolling herself cigarettes: 'My 
husband, if he comes back after all - missing - will complain: I'm smoking 20 
a day.' [. . .] All these women without men, on their own feet, morally quite 
free, with their trousers, their cigarettes, their children ... if I could write 
novels! - The train was already in G. at 10.15. Walk home troublesome again. 
Then chatted until 3 in the morning. 


23rd January , Friday forenoon. Greifswald 

The department received two numbers of Romanische Forschungen [Romance 
Researches]. Lerch on aveugle and avec, 7 Curtius 8 (Curtius as well!) on grammar 
in mediaeval education, a dozen Miscellanies by Philipp A. Becker 9 (86!) etc. etc. 
I could do that too, and it tempts me - and it repels me. [. . .] 'Between stools' 
will be the subtitle of my Curriculum vitae. [. . .] 


25th January , Sunday evening 

The 'Trade' at the market square. Shocking. A queue through a house entry to 
a little back room. Long and never growing shorter. Ordinary people, women, 
children, men, evidently the poor, needy. And they all buy cigarettes, 1.80 each: 
one, 10, 20, 100 mark notes, the saleswoman throws them carelessly onto a 
pile, at the front the barter shop itself is empty, I saw only a Russian officer in 
it . . . The whole louche enterprise is of course 'Jew business'. I bought E. 25 cig. 
for 45M. 

This morning Jacoby and wife finally called [...]. Bellowing with him - while 


February 1 948 


241 


the ladies sat in the bedroom - was no pleasure. He spoke disparagingly of the 
Education Faculty, which he does not acknowledge to be scholarly and wants 
to be set only practical tasks. [. . .] 


28th January , midday Wednesday and Wednesday evening. 
Greifswald 

[. . .] On the whole we are both very depressed; I for my part am burdened by 
my conscience, but as soon as I am immersed in work, feel a little more hopeful. 
But a) are there not also possibilities for E. to make an impression? b) is there 
any point to my work, does it have a purpose? I read, read, read - make notes, 
prepare - essentially the Image of France, in addition the very modern writers. 
For the university I should be drawing up in detail the programme for my 
summer seminar. How shall I sustain it? I do not know any of the recent 
specialist literature on the 19th century in France. [. . .] will I rely on my old 
(outdated) stuff? What will my seminar look like? I still do not know on which 
texts it can be based. [. . .] 

31st January, Saturday forenoon. Greifswald 

On Thurs. E. returned in despair from a walk; G. was so very ugly, from now on 
she would only walk round 'in a circle' [. . .], in a circle round our block of 
houses. - Yesterday she was elected first chair of the DFD [Women's League] 
here. That gives her a daily goal, and her mood improved. That was yesterday 
afternoon; in the evening I spoke to a small grateful bunch in the refectory, the 
SED group of the University Preparatory Institute. In addition a couple of 
guests: Markowski, Szolbe, Frau Jacoby(\). The individual in history and in 
Marxism. It was a pure Montesquieu lecture, thorough, conversational, intel- 
ligible to all. All my old chestnuts [. . .] 

Constant reading on the Image of France. Reading aloud. At the moment 
Maurois. 10 [. . .] 


3rd February , Tuesday forenoon. Greifswald 

[...] 

On the afternoon of the same Sunday to tea with the Jacobys. I had very 
much feared it, and it was indeed very trying, since I am involved in a ceaseless 
bellowing dialogue with him, while E. converses with her. [. . .] I actually felt 
sorry for the Jacobys. They live in cramped conditions, they have a single room 
overladen with plush, and a bedroom - the remainder has been given up to 
refugees. Everything about them leaves an impression of shabbiness, con- 
finement. (Why exactly? He cannot be paid less than I. A son fell in action, a 
daughter is self-supporting in the West.) One perhaps does his wife an injustice. 
Eva says she is quite tolerable. From aristocratic old times. [. . .] He: a captain in 
the reserves, in his youth professor in Japan for a year, lectured in English. [. . .] 
Jacoby is neither intellectually nor morally inferior or hidebound - but he is 


242 


The Lesser Evil 


not on the side of the SED and is sly and tenacious. I am just as little honest 
with him as he is with me. I pass on everything, which should be confidential 
faculty business, to Wohlgemuth - my oath! - and he pushes me away from 
any power within the faculty. [. . .] 

Every other word everywhere: the currency reform, just don't accumulate any 
money, just don't give away any material assets! 

[...] 

Unceasing reading, reading aloud, collecting, making notes - but when shall 
I get down to writing again? ... At a standstill since 9 November. 

[...] 


Monday 9th February. Greifswald: Trip to Berlin , University 
Conference of the SED , 7th and 8th February 

To put the overwhelming fact of these two days right at the beginning: On 
Sunday came deliverance from Greifswald [...]. Downright dramatic: the chair 
in Romance Languages and Literature at Halle has been quite categorically 
offered to me and in Leipzig a chair in the sociology faculty can be arranged for 
me. Freedom! E. in bliss. Re-entry into life. 

In order: 

At the station far too early at 4.20 a.m. because of unreliable clock. Pain on 
the way there. After a while Wohlgemuth appeared with [. . .] Schmidt- Walter 
and Beyer. [. . .] First talk turned to university politics. [. . .] The fearful professors 
were left with the choice [in the rectorial election] between the SED professor 
Schmidt-Walter and myself; they appear to be able to swallow S.-W. more easily, 
he has been designated at any rate. Then we got around to my personal affairs. 
[. . .] From there the story shifted to our difficulties and to the governing body's 
unfulfilled promises. There were several reproaches from Wohlgemuth [...], as 
if I were immodest in my demands and had no appreciation of the situation, 
more was being done for me than for any other professor, I evidently lacked 
the proper idealism. I for my part told him with some passion and very bluntly, 
that I felt myself deceived, that promises made to me were not being kept; that 
they were cowering behind the 'as far as possible' of the contract, that they 
were very well aware of the helplessness of my position, that I was filled with 
deep bitterness and would leave Greifswald at a day's notice, if I had the 
opportunity to do so. Both sides then gave way and a rupture was avoided, but 
the feeling of bitterness remained. [. . .] 

Conference in the huge less elegant room on the second floor [at Jagerstrasse]. 
I estimate 200-250 people at two endlessly long tables. Very many acquaint- 
ances. [. ..] Meusel had just begun his paper on 1848. Extremely instructive 
from the Marxist standpoint. Dry humour. I learnt a great deal for my own 
lecture, which I am supposed to give to the students here at the start of the 
summer semester. [The paper] was expanded by the additions and the critical 
remarks of the discussion. [. . .] The starting point was always: what should we, 
the SED, as official speakers and writers of articles say about it all? a) not talk 
about Greater Germany - inopportune! 11 b) place 18 March [the outbreak of the 


February 1948 


243 


Revolution in Berlin] at the centre and not the Frankfurt Parliament, because 
Berlin is our capital and not Frankfurt!! c) main thing Marx and the Communist 
Manifesto [. . .] It was very instructive but after the preceding night and journey 
also very exhausting. The common lunch in the same room was no relaxation. 
[.*.] 

I spent almost the whole morning [of the second day] in conversation with 
Krauss in a corner of the empty breakfast room. From the start I was surprised 
by his great warmth. His offer: in the first instance Halle. It must be occupied. 
In Greifswald I was in the wrong place. [. . .] He would obtain testimonials 
supporting me (from Auerbach in the USA), so that I would get the guest 
professorship in Berlin. Did I want to be in charge of the Kulturbund in Leipzig? 
I should give a lecture there. He fetched Rocholl, the Saxon Undersecretary, also 
the Halle registrar, they would write to me forthwith. [. . .] On the other hand: 
in the new Leipzig sociology faculty, Behrens the dean 12 - I spoke to [the latter 
. . .] chairs were still unoccupied there - 1 could have a professorship under some 
title, without any conflict with the overburdened Krauss, who himself gives 
lectures in this faculty and would like to have time for his Hispanic studies. 
Thus the result of these discussions is one certain and one f certain offer of a 
chair, the open window, as E. says, which we can jump out of, away from hated 
Greifswald. And that, one day after the rancour of the clash with Wohlgemuth! - 
About himself Krauss related: he and his wife are being divorced, she has 
remained in the West . . . The KB has been boycotting him since his fiasco at 
the first anniversary [. . .], his PLN novel was getting no reviews. I consoled him 
and promised him a notice. [. . .] Krauss said: everywhere there was a clique of 
emigres, in order to thrive in Germany today, one had to have been an emigre 
or a Nazi, best of all both. 

[...] 

E. very happy, would best of all like to pay a forfeit and go to Halle imme- 
diately; but we shall presumably have to get through the summer semester here 
. . . Nevertheless: the feeling of still counting for something and of escaping the 
chains! 

[...] 

Today worn-out, depressed, self-doubting - since arriving in G. I have only 
been groping around and not yet got anything down in writing. How much 
time is left to me? 

The Volk and Welt publishing house has today sent E. a second book to translate; 
she must first of all send back a blurb and suitable passage from it as a sample. 

I immediately began to read the book out: Jean Cassou Les massacres de Paris. 13 

[...] 


12th February , Thursday evening. The day of Father's death. 
Greifswald 
[...] 

Towards evening yesterday E. returned from one of her visits: Comrade Pfeiffer 


244 


The Lesser Evil 


had tickets for his people and for us for the premiere of Madame Butterfly. So 
quite unexpectedly we found ourselves in the (always sold out) theatre. For the 
second time. Good seats in the fourth row of the orchestra stalls, only cold. The 
natives bring blankets and wrap themselves up, of course everyone wears a coat. 
We saw Butterfly in 1926(?) in Genoa [. . .], I enjoyed the music very much. [. . .] 
The tragedy a bit crude, naive and kitschy. The performers [. . .] had to take 
curtain calls again and again [...]. 


16th February , Monday forenoon - and later. Greifswald 

[...] 

Towards evening Schmidt- Walter, just appointed provisional Prorector, called. 
The senate, placed under heavy pressure and threatened with my even more 
unpleasant person, had to consent. [. . .] 

At the Pfeiffers', Sepke, supported by Pf., had quite a go at me: more had been 
expected after the 'revolutionary reputation' which preceded me. I should not 
be giving talks, not be distracted by the Soviet Society, 14 the Kulturbund etc., 
but 'organise' the university for the Party, keep an eye on Schmidt-Walter, 
mobilise, use all my energy to activate the jaded Wohlgemuth, the pro-Schuhma- 
cher Jurgens, the sluggish SED group of lecturers and students . . . How I am 
supposed to manage this quite privately, without any official or Party authority, 
was not revealed by these wise people. [. . .] The business weighs heavily on my 
mind. Nowhere any support, let down by all sides ... I wish I could get away 
from here - Party and scholarship give me equal cause for concern. 

[...] 


1 7th February , Tuesday evening 

Jacoby called yesterday [evening . . .]. [. . .] There was an interesting discussion 
with Jacoby. He wants to divert me from politics with the clumsiest flattery: my 
books would still be read in 100 years (but nothing small, only a thick book 
lasts!), I should found a 'Klemperer School', that was my gift, my duty [...]. I 
said, duty was a mysterious business, it was perhaps precisely my duty now, to 
set youth on the right path. 

[...] 


20th February , midday Friday. Greifswald 

[...] 

On Wed. aft. there was a meeting of the SED University Committee in Franz's 
office. Franz chaired, Prorector Schmidt-Walter, Sielaff, myself. Also two from 
the student council and an elderly lady, lecturer at the Preparatory Studies 
Institute. Main question: how to get control of the student council, we have 
only 7 of 16 votes. Eternal question: how to break the power of the reactionary 
professors? I said: I advocated a harder line in every respect, but was not yet 
fully in the picture. Franz - evidently given a nudge by the Party - I should take 


February 1948 


245 


over the chair [of the committee]. He and the Prorector would advise me, the 
students would call on me next Wednesday to be briefed. I accepted. Like this I 
really get significant possibilities. 


22nd February , Sunday evening. Greifswald. Stopover. Political 
training conference Schwerin 

[...] 

Yesterday morning up at 3 after 2\ hours sleep, in icy wind to the Party office, 
bus journey 4-10. Set off today at 12 midday in the car with Franz, back at the 
university at 5, here a quarter of an hour later. 

[...] 

[Overnight in Schwerin Klemperer was quartered with the family of a postal 
official.] I myself was in bed before 9, enjoyed the warmth and the quiet until 
almost 7.30. The wife [. . .] then said in all innocence about the Trades [see 
above, p. 240] which have been closed down: Jews. People had taken 'the last 
things they had' there, gold, silver, crystal. She had seen a woman who had to 
have shoes for her child. She imitated (without mocking, without malice) the 
accent of the man at the scales. 'Not a German Jew, a Polish one probably' - 
'more, much more!' - spoons in this case. There had been tears in the woman's 
eyes. I: so people generally talk of Jews. She: there were no doubt also 'white 
Jews' among them. I: ? She: that's what Germans who carried on this trade were 
called ... [. . .] 

Bredel 15 had spoken in resounding words of the intellectuals we have won 
over and could easily continue winning over at the universities, these young 
people were open-minded and not at all hidebound. Franz and Reinhard urged 
me to make a sharp reply. I spoke without sharpness, but clearly enough. 
Comrade Bredel's high-flown words did not take us anywhere. When / took my 
school-leaving certificate at the beginning of the century, I had never heard the 
name Karl Marx. For some old teachers it was no different now, nor in the 
parental homes of the bourgeois students. On top of that the 12 years of Hitler 
education, the foolish hostility to the Russians - how then could things be easy 
for us?! Many were indifferent, some full of ill-will, all ignorant - and the 
students from workers' homes often traitors to their class. We had very simply 
to teach with infinite patience and from the very beginning. Start with Acker- 
mann's: Marx does not attack property, only bourgeois property. Property gained 
through one's own labour was protected by Marxism. And [. . .] proceed step by 
step, show them the compatibility [of Socialism and human rights], then: that 
without Socialism there are no human rights, that the individual personality 
can be successfully asserted only within Socialism. Finally I said: be under no 
illusions about the difficulty of winning the students. [. ..] New to me in 
Ackermann's speech: in its desperate struggle against Socialism, the USA was 
becoming ever more Fascist, racial ideology, persecution of Negroes was becom- 
ing ever stronger ... [. . .] Very important for me was the instruction on the 
route from Marx to Lenin, on the new monopoly capitalism; on the neo- 
Revisionist deployment of 'people's community' and abolition of classes [as 


246 


The Lesser Evil 


against] the Marxist theory of class struggle; on the new oligarchy of 'managers', 
who in big companies dominate the small shareholders. [. . .] I am pleased at 
having something altogether new to think about. Extension or diversion? What 
will I be able to use, how much time is left me? 

In between I composed a more concise version of a motion which E. will 
propose at a meeting of the DFD in Berlin tomorrow on behalf of her group 
and on her initiative: that the independent income of a wife should be taxed 
separately and not together with that of the husband. Because otherwise the 
higher bracket neutralises the gain. 

On Saturday E. had half the theatre here for discussions and rehearsals: all 
women, singer, actress, dancer. For Women's Day on 3 rd March. E. presides, 
speaks, listens to her own songs. What has become of the two of us! 

[..J 

25th February, Wednesday forenoon. Greifswald: Berlin trip 23rd- 
24th Feb. after Schwerin trip 21st-22nd Feb. 

Really the main person this time was E. All of Monday and Tuesday she sat and 
spoke in the DFD at the Jagerstr. club. She called on Tschesno (Volk und Welt): 
her new job (Cassou), enthusiastic compliments, a pajok card via Colonel 
Dymshits. Pressure on Greifswald by the SMA to make better provision for us. 

I: as purchaser via Gerd Rosen's bookshop to the Internationale Buchhandlung 
[bookshop] in Albert Achillesstr. ... To Wendt and the Sonntag [periodical], to 
the Neues Leben publishing house. Amusing solution to the 'Culture' mystery: 
the brochure is 'too tame' for the Russians. (I: 'That had to happen to me\ When 
I thought I had to approach the thing with kid gloves!') All 30,000 copies are 
now to be sent to the West, where they would find a ready market - all 
that remained (why?) was to obtain Ackermann's certain agreement; after that 
produce a new edition for our zone with certain passages stiffened [...]! Schles- 
inger has left: health reasons, business failure - too much sketched out, too 
little carried out, nervous breakdown, the Party will appoint him to another 
post, which he can cope with more adequately. [. . .] In the front office another 
young man, heard my name, pressed the first edition of Forum into my hand: 
on the front page in big letters statements by 4 professors about the People's 
Congress. Among them Victor Klemperer and Karl Vossler. (Two sentences from 
my Dresden wireless speech). In particular to find VK-KV together pleased me 
greatly [...]. 

These therefore the results of the trip. - Private matters: 

[. . .] At the Stettin Station before 12 (instead of 10.30). Overnight there had 
been an enormous snowfall in Berlin, deep snow still on the streets. [. . .] We 
left [the ADN news agency], relieved but in a rush, to Anny. From Witzleben 
station to Dernburgstr. it was a long and arduous way through the snow. [. . .] 
Anny took us to the nearer Charlottenburg station. I left E. at Zoo station, went 
to Rosen's bookshop, got a good impression of the new Kurfurstendamm. The 
big city above and amidst all destruction, one place of amusement after another: 
cinemas, restaurants, elegant shops, thronging people. Yet every building 


March 1948 


247 


somehow more or less heavily damaged and the Gedachtniskirche [Memorial 
Church] at the dominating point, the most characteristic building of the whole 
area: [. . .] Imperial-era church, half a spire knocked off, every side a yawning 
ruin. Everything cleanly covered in snow. [. . .] Underground to Jagerstr. I had 
E. called out of her meeting room, was able to revive her with a good dinner, then 
Mackie arrived and we went out to Niederschonhausen. Snow and moonlight, 
Russian barrier. Doris monstrously deformed by advanced pregnancy. Warmest 
welcome and hospitality. [. . .] 

[..J 


6th March , Saturday forenoon 

Greifswald has turned from a calamity into really serious misfortune. E. for 
many days contending with coughing, bronchitis etc. was overtaken by the 
ominous shortage of breath of 1943; I had Dr Gulzow, assistant director of the 
university hospital, come, younger, very pleasant man. Mild pneumonia, a 
couple of days in bed. The same bedclothes for three months now, they're tom, 
bloody (because of E's dermatosis, which has now improved - whereas mine is 
worsening). Last night E. literally in a frenzy, one of the worst eruptions I have 
experienced in almost 44 years. We are both exhausted and ill. - For days now 
the thick fog, which we can both no longer breathe, for weeks the frost, the 
frozen pipes, the filthiness of the closet, unbathed since 9 December - I am so 
infinitely tired of all of it, at the same time I reproach myself for regarding E.'s 
desperation with egoistical despair. [. . .] 

The only good thing about E.'s (in fact probably mild) illness. As far as the 
big DFD meeting on 8 March is concerned, which gave her so much trouble 
and annoyance and where her address turned into such a contested matter of 
prestige - was it or was it not worth fighting that battle?? - she is now out of 
the game thanks to vis major. A women's committee meeting was held at her 
bedside - I meanwhile shivered in the unheated study. [. . .] 


12th March , Friday afternoon. Greifswald. (Berlin trip 8th-9th 
March) 

[...] 

The Greifswald People's Congress on Sunday was altogether pitiful: the 
theatre, the balconies at least, quite empty, the public apathetic [. . .] Everything 
was reeled off in one and a half hours, as unceremoniously as possible. [. . .] 

The morning train on Monday and reached Berlin punctually - filthy thaw 
weather. Tried in vain to telephone Rompe from Mackie's office, nevertheless 
went there. Novelistic good luck: the usually absent Rompe was in the building 
[. . .] and by chance the registrar of the University of Halle and a government 
man from Saxony-Anhalt were there at the same time. [. . .] The Halle people: 
'You would have been appointed long ago, if we had a house and garden for 
you.' - I: I was worn out and would do without them. Result [...]: immediate 
call to Halle, we are to get a decent 4\ room apartment, all kinds of furniture 


248 


The Lesser Evil 


will also be made available for us to purchase. [. . .] (I had had enough of all the 
big promises in Greifswald and now appreciated the caution of the two men; I 
thought to myself: we'll get hold of something in G. and something in Halle, it 
will mount up.) There was also immediately talk of giving me leave to teach in 
Leipzig one day a week [...]. Since then we are both as if delivered. [. . .] 
Tremendous sphere of activity and new link with Saxony and closeness to 
Dresden. I dream of a combination: government man in Dresden with backing 
from Leipzig. E., too, is full of hope. [. . .] 

Then I travelled out to Anny. Very necessary coffee break. Peter there with a 
school and university friend. Both completed their first semester in medicine. 
[. . .] Desire to work for the press. Peter wanted to be advised by Kahane. We 
went to ADN, where there was a car waiting for me. Very warmly received - 
Peter made an excellent impression, stayed to eat with us, had to be smuggled 
out of the Russian kraal. 16 [. . .] 


16th March , Tuesday evening. Greifswald 

Torment of the eczema intensified to the extreme. To Braun at the skin clinic. 
Result: not like E., but vulgar scabies. Peacetime treatment impossible. Pre- 
condition a warm bath - not to be had at home, nor in the skin clinic itself(!!!). 
I went to the public bath, way out at the older clinics. There was a crowd waiting. 
And a sign: 'Persons with infectious and disfiguring illnesses prohibited.' I 
did not have the nerve . . . Further: You should rub in the sulphur ointment in 
warm surroundings. But I cannot spatter the warm room and must treat my 
unbathed body (unbathed since the beginning of December!) in the cold bath- 
room. And afterwards where will I get fresh bedclothes? And how is E. to be 
protected? - A dreadful state of affairs, and at the same time I am suffering ever 
more, and what I have is ever more evident on my wrists and hands. Braun 
laughed: 'we've all been through it, the hotels no longer wash the bedclothes, 
so infection is unavoidable.' [. . .] And now I am travelling to Berlin tomorrow. 
To whom shall I pass it on - the Kahanes or a hotel? 

[...] 


19th March , Friday afternoon. Greifswald. People's Congress (The 
Second -1848 17 ) Berlin 17th-18th March 

With such a congress [in Berlin] it is much as with the circus: it's fun perhaps 
at most every couple of years. This time I felt everything to be worn out and 
chewed over, and everything external exactly as before. [. . .] The sight of the 
State Opera, the public, the newspaper sellers, the presiding committee, the 
photographers ... I already know it so well. And is there anything new that 
anyone can say about 1848 from an SED standpoint? I sat inside as little as 
possible, and did not hear the whole of single speech, what I need to know for 
my address, I shall read in the newspaper. But I shook hands x times, have been 
seen by x people, and that is the important thing and enough. [. . . heard] some 
bits of Ulbricht 18 on the economic situation. He let the cat out of the bag and 


March 1948 


249 


drew an optimistic picture of a separate East Germany and its economic plan. 19 

[• • •] I soon left to visit Anny. The usual: good coffee, warm friendship and 
matter of course anti-Russianism and anti-Sovietism. People 'disappear', safes 
are looted, friends of Peter did not have good manners and had not gone to 
grammar school ... [. . .] 

The demonstration started at 10.30 [the next day]; I would gladly have gone 
along, particularly as I have never seen the Cemetery of the Fallen of March 
1848. 20 But it was pouring down [...]. 

Back in the Opera again towards 2. [. . .] then Mackie Kahane appeared and 
reproached me for not having joined them. He said the demonstration, which 
he had watched from the car at various points - pity! I could have had that 
with him! - had been impressive. Despite the downpours and a competing 
enterprise by the SPD, the police estimated 80,000 participants. (Later a higher 
figure was given: 100,000, 120,000 . . .) - I was annoyed about the prepared 
ballot paper [with the list of names] for the Volksrat [People's Council]. [...] 
Who put it together, why am I not among these 300? From Mecklenburg there 
are only Party people: no farmer, no university or literary man. In addition to 
these named 300 there are 100 people from the West, who have to be swallowed 
[their names] unprinted. This secrecy is the most interesting feature of the 
whole business. 

[...] 


22nd March , Monday forenoon 

On Saturday aft. from 5-8 at Wohlgemuth's, in his magnificent apartment (he 
has influenza), Schmidt-Walter, the prorector, present. Fight about my staying 
or leaving. Always just avoiding personal argument. They want to keep me, feel 
deceived, say: I am leaving for personal, not substantial reasons, try to present 
me as immodest, as without idealism. I gave Franz a very serious and very clear 
reply. [. . .] 

Aside from that [...]: Cold and scabies. 

[...] 


29th March , Easter Monday forenoon. Greifswald 
Wretched Easter. Once again nothing at all to eat, only dry bread, no packet, 
everything used up. - Scabies ever more excruciating. Yesterday in fine weather - 
the days warm, hoar at night - crawled with E. through the quite dreary 
landscape for less than a mile; E.'s strength already failed her on the way back, 
she looks very wretched and very much aged. [. . .] yet we are industrious and 
E.'s work, at least, is going with a swing: the typewriter is always clattering away 
and the first 50 pages of her Cassou have already been sent off. I myself 
completed my speech 'Arbeiterblut, Studentenblut' [Workers' Blood, Students' 
Blood] the day before yesterday and will type it up [...]. Much of it is copied 
and compiled; but composition and application appear good nevertheless and 
my own property. But I cannot publish any of it, because the material '1848' is 


250 


The Lesser Evil 


completely worn out and the whole world glutted with it. By and large the work 
has not been worthwhile for me. [. . .] Since yesterday I have been trying to 
prepare for the De TAllemagne seminar 21 [. . .] How frivolously my Literary History 
was written! But without this frivolity it would never have come to be. It's good, 
but a student or a teacher cannot live off it, it is sauce for the roast which has 
to be got somewhere else. 

[Jacoby calls to try to persuade VK to remain in Greifswald] But 77 horses 
cannot keep us here . . . My plan and inner tranquilliser is now: I work up 
the lecture courses here, with which I shall fill the first winter semester in 
Halle/Leipzig, entrenched behind my double appointment I ignore all politics 
and thus find time, at least for my 'German Image of France'. 

The department library overwhelms me [. . .] after having existed far from any 
Romance language and literature studies for 13 years. 

[...] 

I wrote to Vossler, to Lerch [. . .], to Kneschke (I would like to remain in 
the Saxon Kulturbund) [. . .], to the Gerstles, to Max Sebba. The arrears of 
correspondence weigh on me. Constant fatigue. After our meal, I fall asleep 
over my book for one or two hours, after that, after tea and a snack, I work until 
at least 1.30 often until 2.30. Start early at 7, dropping off in the morning. E. 
sleeps after our main meal and in the evening in bed after eating, but then also 
translates until 1 or later. 

[...] 


9th April , 12.30 a.m. Friday 

On Wed. aft. in the department 'preparatory conversation', giving out seminar 
papers, today from 5-7 first lecture: Romanticism, Definition. First lecture in 13 
years, first university lecture in 28 years! 22 Once again my reputation at stake! I 
can still do it, I think I found the right tone. But in the last few days I have 
prepared myself intensively and this preparation, as far as the main lecture 
went, was no more than repetition and recollection, not a gain in knowledge. 
With De TAllemagne it is a bit different. 

I struggled with [Krauss's] PLN for a couple of days. The review is § written - 
but I understand one third of the book at most. 


11th April , Sunday evening 

My first Voltaire lecture yesterday at the university [. . .] was a small triumph. 
We had to move from the designated lecture theatre into the main lecture hall. 
It admittedly is a main hall with about 160 seats, of which perhaps 100 were 
occupied. 

PLN study 'Philologie unterm Fallbeil' [Philology beneath the guillotine] 
finished at last and good. I want to give it to Forum and make a shorter version 
for Heute und Morgen. 


April 1948 


251 


16th April , Friday afternoon 

Lectures and seminars claim much of my time, but also give me pleasure. Much 
work, little sleep, even less to eat. In this respect the nadir of nadirs, no parcels 
at all. 


[...] 


18th April , Sunday evening 

Since 2 o'clock this morning: summer time. And proper spring. Even here there 
are a couple flowering trees. [. . .] Spring: for the first time since the beginning 
of December(!!) water touched my poor body, I splashed it on myself. Perhaps 
it will do my body, bitten and flayed and martyred and mottled by 'post- 
scabious eczema', good. My body, unbathed for 5 months . . . 

Telegram from the Halle registrar: apartment with garden ready for me in a 
semi-detached house, furniture was being procured. That [. . .] gave me a sense 
of security. 

[..J 

I had written to Vossler for the first time since Dresden. About the call to 
Halle and Leipzig and a request for suggestions as to a successor [in Greifswald]. 
The reply deviates alarmingly from the usual warmth and liveliness. A little 
d'outre-tombe, 23 failing interest. Briefly dictated and signed with a scrawl: he 
has been suffering from leukaemia for a year, he was in bed, he was so weak, 
that he could not walk down the stairs of his house, he could not work, only 
read. Very cool in tone. I very much had the impression this was his last letter 
to me. 


19th April , Monday evening. 'Academic Festival Day ' 

Great success. I spoke - a gown, which was pinned at the top, so that the absent 
foundation of the white shirtfront was not evident - in great form. My address 
is to be published immediately as a pamphlet. Fritz Muller, representing the 
government here, offered me the rectorship if I stayed, also offered me his post 
in Schwerin, because he himself would like a university position. I walk on air. 
Wohlgemuth just rang: Russian permission to print 1400 copies as university 
offprint already granted. [. . .] 


29th April , Thursday forenoon 

[...] 

There are now some 20 people enrolled in my seminar, about half the number 
attending my main lecture. The papers are weak. Few questions are asked - it 
always comes down to a lecture, to my speech holding it together. 

[...] 


252 


The Lesser Evil 


9th May , Sunday afternoon 

[...] 

Urgent worry now: the appointment trip. I sent telegrams to Halle and 
Dresden to fix appointment times. Halle replied immediately: Quarters on 18 
May for 2 persons in the surgical clinic, meeting on 19 May. Dresden has not 
replied. [. . .] Meanwhile a letter from Kneschke: whether I want to speak on 
Barbusse at the Dresden Kulturbund . . . They have bought Rudolph's Klemperer 
portrait and hung it up in the Emser Allee office. Curious how that flatters my 
inner self. 

[...] 


[16th May] Sunday evening - Whit Sunday and wedding anniversary 
We did not celebrate at all - little to eat and little time. But our mood was 
relatively good, it still is, although the few steps of an evening walk just now, 
made us both ache. - Hallelujah! 

[...] 

18th-26th May , trip: Halle-Leipzig-Berlin. Dresden at Heinsch's, 55 
Plauensche Ring (West End view) 11.30 p.m. Friday evening , 21st 
May 

Whit Monday: To the Schmidts [in Dolzschen] in the forenoon. Tragedy of 
Gunther Schmidt in Jena: The GPU is forcing him to spy on fellow students. 
Threatens to arrest him otherwise. He signs, asks the rector for advice, who 
recommends flight to the West. What is my opinion? Our advice: wait and see! 
Very awkward. [. . .] 

[Victor and Eva Klemperer take a full day on 18 May to reach Halle from 
Greifswald, and spend the night in the surgical clinic. The city makes a good 
impression on them [. . .] They are shown their promised house and garden 
which also make a good impression. Inspection of future department. Begins to 
make dispositions, establishes good relations with Frau Dr Hetzer (later Schober) 
teacher of Provencal.] Comrade Dr Hetzer 24 [...]. Just turned 30. Curiously 
delicate, energetic, at the same time feminine face. Characteristic: 'my fiance 
and I, we live together' (cf Georg Klemperer, Berthold's son!, Doris . . . that's the 
way it is now. Her husband missing at Stalingrad, not yet declared dead. [. . .]). 

During the course of the day I repeatedly told both of them [Hetzer and 
Joachim Storost, 25 professor of Old French, subsequently at Greifswald Uni- 
versity]: you have a free hand, I am not jealous, I want only to pursue my literary 
and intellectual history, and be relieved of everything else. - For the rest, I am 
now the master of a proper institute [. . .] What a comedy ... [. . .] To the clinic, 
supper in the matron's room. [. . .] The fiance' called for us, she was meanwhile 
to speak on the People's Petition. 


May 1948 


253 


23rd May , Sunday afternoon , at Kahanes', Berlin 

Comrade Schober, 26 a Sudeten German like Frau Hetzer, a joiner, his Com- 
munist father died in a concentration camp, he himself in a camp, in a pun- 
ishment battalion, went over to the Russians, functionary, now at admin- 
istration school, soon in the government. - By the romantic Saale. Rowing 
boats. Raft in the river decorated with greenery, loudspeaker vans on the bank. 
People's Petition. Hetzer among the speakers from the raft. [. . .] Pretty, lively 
scene. - To the couple's apartment. Us and the Storosts. Frau Storost [. . .] friendly 
soul. A librarian at the university. Coffee. Accompanied us a fairly long way to 
the tram [. . .] From Hetzer's apartment I wrote Vahlen a letter of thanks and 
acceptance. Very pleased, very tired out. - So now the director of an institute, 
under me an associate professor for language, a lecturer for Provencal, two 
assistants. 

On Thurs. 20 May early train to Leipzig. Stood for an hour. Very exhausted. 
At the tidied-up and still very elegant station an indefinable bouillon and 
radishes. Then on foot - memories, the dead around us, where was Platen, the 
coffeehouse? where the Merkur Cafe, where is Harms, where Schemer, where 
Kopke?!? 27 - to the publisher Teubner [. . . more good news here for Klemperer, 
proofs of his Modem French Prose have arrived and further academic publications 
are requested and promised . . .] 

[. . .] At about 1 over to Krauss at his Romance Languages and Literatures 
Department. He looks very worn out, complains about circulation problems, 
heart, lack of medicines, reactionary elements in the philosophical faculty, 
Kuhn . . . 

Situation in my affair. Great hostility [to me] in the philosophical faculty, 
while in the social science faculty he taught French intellectual history and 
they did not want to have two chairs. But there was the alternative of giving 
me a post in comparative literary history. Also he, Krauss, was so overworked, 
that he was soon going to give up his teaching in the social science faculty. 


24th May , Monday ; at Kahanes' 

At the moment Krauss was evidently more interested in Bloch, 2 * over whom he 
was involved in a fierce fight with the faculty, than in me. I pretended I was 
completely in the know. [. . .] 

[The Klemperers travel on to Dresden, another exhausting if relatively short 
journey. On the 22nd Klemperer attended the Saxon regional congress of the 
Kulturbund. He gives a well-received talk on Barbusse, signs copies of LTI. A 
young man came up to me: after reading LTI, he wanted to study philology. 
That was the best compliment for me. [Klemperer is nevertheless 'replaced' on 
the regional committee.] 


30th May , Greifswald 

[Calling at the Education Ministry in Dresden the next morning] the man at 
the barrier addressed me as a KPD comrade and pointed to the two flagpoles 


254 


The Lesser Evil 


on the big square outside. On one hung the red flag, on the other - for the first 
time, after a Zone decision of the previous day, the flag of the Democratic 
Republic [of Germany - as opposed to the Federal Republic in the western 
zones]: Black-red-gold. (Extremely unfortunate choice! Reminds one of Greater 
Germany and of the Weimar Republic.) 29 [. . .] 

[On Sunday morning the Klemperers travel on to Berlin. They arrive at the 
Schlesische Station at 1 p.m., eat some] indefinable vegetable stew. I phoned 
Niederschonhausen, half an hour later Mackie picked us up in the car. (On 
leaving I wrote down the following for him: Je le dirai sans treve, / Je le dirai 
sans peur: / Tu es le neveu de mes reves, / Tu es le neveu de mon coeur. // Moi 
je suis faible poete, / C'etait toujours mon malheur; / Done, begayant, je repete: 
/ Tu es le neveu de mon coeur! 30 ) The home is ruled by Dominique, born 30 
April [. . .] and regarded as beautiful by everyone, and Mackie philosophies about 
the sudden display of paternal feeling which only recently he had still smiled 
at ... [. . .] We were kindly given the bedroom of the couple, for whom we 
brought the heavy silver and gilded ladle of the child's great grandmother (my 
mother) as godparents' present. 

On Monday 24 May [. . .] Forenoon Aufbau Publishing House, Wendt. [. . .] 
LTI sold out, 11-20 thousand is to come in the autumn [...]. 


30th May , Sunday afternoon. Greifswald 

[. . .] For days on end now we have been living on dry bread and watery soups. 
Yet one pajok parcel is waiting in Berlin, and this time two are supposed to be 
coming from Schwerin, apparently an advance delivery. [. . .] 

Evening 

On Friday evening we entered our names on the People's Petition. No crowd. 
Still only about 30% on the lists. Towards evening visited the Pfeiffers. There 
are always young people swarming around there. Fellow students of the two 
daughters? Youth movement?? Wonderful gramophone-record music: Spanish 
War songs by Ernst Busch. 31 I myself heard him sing 'Freiheit' [Freedom] in 
Berlin. International etc. 


8th June , Thursday forenoon. Greifswald 

Concern about Eva. On Wed. evening, 2 June, loss of consciousness at Judith 
Kwiet's. Not a faint. It was humid, stuffy - I've know her to faint in such 
conditions before. But this . . . She played piano beautifully, she took out money 
for a big purchase of fat and bacon. Afterwards she remembered nothing of it 
at all. She went in the wrong direction to come back here. Later at home she 
repeatedly asked the same thing, the next moment had forgotten her question. 
Better the next day, but very exhausted. Now halfway well again. Judith wants 
to consult Katsch, who is away. Cerebral haemorrhage? Senile decay? Simply 
overtired and undernourished?? I feel as afraid again as when she was suspected 
of having cancer. Afraid and with a guilty conscience. [. . .] 


June 1948 


255 


On the afternoon of 1 June in the great hall, student assembly convened by 
the student council. There had been an attack on the People's Petition on the 
notice board, at the SED meeting of our university committee we were told: in 
the houses where even one student is lodged, no one enters their name, they are 
agitating against us! Arrests, expulsions. A vigorous speech by Schmidt- Walter, 
a very good, very serious speech by the representative of the union or the 
factories, the scientific manager of the gas or waterworks here, Erdmann (?): the 
workers are paying for the students and are less well-off than the students - the 
workers could lose patience one day. A very poor speech by Wohlgemuth; he 
talked about the expulsion of a few criminals - theft from institutes - not about 
political expulsions. A student council resolution for the People's Petition and 
against the reactionary students. A third, at most, of those present, raised their 
hands. (The great hall crowded, included the gallery.) When contributions were 
asked for, there was naturally silence, at the questions 'Who is against?', 'Who 
abstains?' not a hand was raised. What is gained by this resolution? Nothing at 
all. [...] 

[...] 


20th June , Sunday afternoon 

The never-ending rush, the pointless activity. Sat. 12th-Mon. evening 14th, 
Hakeburg, Berlin; Tue. 15th, Stralsund, Kulturbund LTI; Wed. 16th, Stael 
seminar; Thurs. 17th, lectured SED students on the socialist novel in France 
(without depth, purely compilation of what I already knew); Frid. 18th, 
lecture- Vigny 32 ; Sat. 19th, double seminar Voltaire. All of it repetition, mosaic, 
barren memory work - no PROGRESS, and at the same time so wearisome, 
strenuous. Rarely more than 5, often only 4 hours sleep, falling asleep over 
work. [. . .] The nightmare of the inner conflict: exhaust myself in public 
dissipation of my strength and influence (if I have any - constantly growing 
despair about politics, mire everywhere) or write fine books?? So much has 
to be done, has been promised - and I need all my strength to attend to my 
daily duties. 

[. . .] Early yesterday, 19 June, the siren sounded for several minutes, we 
thought the control button at some factory had got stuck. (Our wireless still in 
Dresden!) But it was a call to a protest meeting on the market place. The West's 
currency reform. 33 In the afternoon I saw a queue outside the bank on the 
market place. People were taking their money there [...]. The black marketeers 
are not parting with anything until the new Soviet regulation is out. I have 
about 720M in the house, are they lost? [. . .] Today, Sunday, the currency 
situation has still not been clarified. The newspaper reports are quite idiotic: 
everything is calm, business transactions continue. Everyone knows, everything 
is at a standstill. 

[...] 

My afterword to the Salammbo edition in Reutlingen 34 has just been printed; 
in it I already figure as professor in Halle. 


256 


The Lesser Evil 


22nd June , Tuesday forenoon. Greifswald. To Klein Machnow, 
Hakeburg, 12th-14th June 

[The SED Party High School had been set up in the Hakeburg, a nineteenth- 
century mock castle just outside Berlin. Here Klemperer attended a conference- 
cum-training session on philosophical problems with reference to Marxism. 
After summarising points from a number of lectures and reflecting on his 
comprehension or lack of it, he notes:] [. . .] about 300 comrades attended this 
'Conference of the Central High School Committee', the whole intelligentsia 
of the party. In the throng I spoke fleetingly and by turns to: Otto Halle and 
Rocholl (the ministry people from Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt), Rita Hetzer and 
her carpenter [. . .], Such from Leipzig University, Deiters, Gysi, Abusch from 
the (unpleasant) Berlin Kulturbund, acquaintances from the Saxon culture 
departments, whose names and exact position I never know. In short, the whole 
cultural circle of the SED. [. . .] 

The guest professorship at Leipzig was now finally promised to me by Krauss, 
Rocholl, Behrens [...]. Naturally I do not yet have the formal appointment, 
neither from Halle nor from Dresden. The usual state of affairs. 


23rd June, Wednesday afternoon 

Very depressed and weary of life - hunger and poor physical state may play a 
part in that. I find the political situation bleak and all our doings a waste of 
time. A few days ago a meeting at which we, the university committee of the 
SED, called on a number of invited students to either work with the Party or be 
prepared to be thrown out. I had to appeal to their consciences with reference 
to the general situation. Yesterday a somewhat similar meeting of the SED 
university teachers' group. I spoke again. Reactionary currents in the West and 
here, position of the university, of the lecturers. My speech was pretty radical. 
But again it emerged that government, Central Administration etc. do not at 
all proceed radically, anzi. 35 [. . .] The wretchedness of making appointments . . . 
Pg's the lot of them. 

[...] 


26th June, Friday morning 

Revulsion. Pointless activity. Repetition. Dissipation of energies. - I read Rol- 
land's play Danton, the only new reading in months. In order to produce 
something new, I would have to be able to study, what good to me are all the 
topics and commissions, if I have not got the time for them? 

Food shortage, hunger, lack of everything that could be a stimulus: tea, coffee, 
sausage, even sugar. There have been no packets for months [...]. 

Chaos of currency reform. 36 We have been badly caught out, are losing a good 
5,000M. To blame is the perfidy which prevented us buying furniture. [. . .] 
Exasperated also with the Neues Leben publishing house: my 'Culture' booklet 
is not selling - where was it publicised, what was done for it?? My 1848 speech 


July 1948 


257 


cannot now be published after all. In my vita nova since 1945 this is more or 
less my first publishing defeat. Against that there is the big essay on my LTI (27 
columns!) in Sowjetliteratur 1948, number 3/4, by Igor Saz (who?) and the short 
but extremely positive notice by Weiskopf in the German- American, New York. 

[...] 

What else is to be added? A film evening? Irgenwa in Berlin [Somewhere in 
Berlin]. 37 Irun n'est plus Irun. I no longer get the old pleasure from film. (It is 
just the same with driving.) The poor sound reproduction probably contributed. 
I was unable to really understand how the action hung together. Brutalised lads 
in Berlin, playing at war in the ruins with hand grenades, thieving, the returning 
soldier, optimistic conclusion: the lads clearing rubble, joining in the rebuilding, 
in between there was tragedy, sentiment - very pretty individual scenes, but 
one recognises the intention from the start - and I don't really believe in 
anything any more. 


27th June, Saturday night after 2 a.m. 

[...] 

[Klemperer notes the pleasant evenings with the Kwiets as one of the few 
bright spots of this period, partly thanks to the real coffee, the radio, the 
conversation . . .] In such conversations reports on Judith's lectures for the 
FDGB [trades union federation] on venereal diseases mingle with ones on her 
dissertation etc. An unthinkable mixture, in which there is much gossip, but 
never, no matter how plain the words, any smuttiness, in which neither mother 
nor daughter blush - and now if I reflect on what was considered proper and 
improper in my parents' home, in Georg's! It is not only a curious bohemian 
degeneration that gives rise to that, but an unbelievable change in sensibility 
and change in the conception of propriety in the times that I have lived through 
... if only I had enough time for my Curriculum! I shall die like a hen with a 
dozen half-finished eggs in its stomach. 


11th July, Sunday [. . .] 

On Thurs., 1 July, [in Berlin . . .] The chaos of the currency reform. With great 
difficulty I got 100M each from Volk and from Aufbau; it appears, however, that 
old debts are, without exception, being paid 1 to 1, and financially that relieves 
us of worry - although of course the tax question continues to weigh on us. At 
Aufbau I made the acquaintance of a new senior editor (name?), who was very 
polite. Curious how friendly the publishing house, how cool the Kulturbund 
(Becher, Gysi, Abusch) is to me. At Neues Leben Hartwig was friendlier than I 
had expected; the publication of my 1848 speech had not at all been definitively 
rejected - only postponed until the university turmoil had died down; the issue 
there is the competition of the Westerners, the planned American counter- 
university [in Berlin]. 38 Interesting was the constant drone of the big air planes, 


258 


The Lesser Evil 


with which the Americans are provisioning their blockaded sector. 39 [. . .] In the 
morning Mackie had straight away driven me to Dernburgstr., where I found 
Anny and Peter. Anny very bitter, naive and exclusively on the American side: 
the Russians left the children of the Western sector without milk, cut off 
electricity etc. The vexation of the triple currencies: West Mark, new East Mark, 
old East Mark, everywhere a different reckoning-up and a different attitude on 
the part of the shopkeepers - one doesn't accept this money, the other not that, 
goods are being held back, prices fluctuate. [. . .] Povera Germania. [. . .] 


12th July, Monday morning 

E.'s birthday: we are sitting here with dry bread just as on 29 June. E. looks very 
pale and scrawny, often complains about aches, about feeling weak, recently 
lost consciousness, is 66 today. Sometimes I worry more about her, sometimes 
more about myself. We are both close to the end, and I am altogether sick of 
vita et mors. 40 The point of the whole thing? 

I am often envious of E. She was always a 100 times more talented than I. I 
had only the one domain of writing and speaking. Now she has even broken 
into this domain and is outstripping me. Her latest plan: to write a novel herself. 
Why does fame (since LTI truly gloria) go to me? 

[...] 


15th July, Thursday. The Berlin day 

[Session of the Kulturbund Executive Committee. Klemperer finds the meeting 
quite sickening (a) because he feels himself ignored by the dominant figures - 
Becher, Gysi, Abusch, (b) because of what he regards as excessive caution to 
placate non-SED participants and to avoid appearing as an extension of the 
SED.] Willmann gave a paper [. . .] on the development of the Kulturbund 
during the last year. [. . .] always the same dilemma: are we only an association 
of intellectuals, or do we draw in the workers as well? To what extent should 
we win people through 'entertainment', through dancing, philately, chess etc.? 
To what extent should we be politically active? [. . .] The best thing was the 
plentiful food during the meeting. 


22nd July, Thursday forenoon. Greifswald 

[...] 

Eva better, but still confined to bed. [She had been suffering from a boil on 
her upper thigh.] - Sultriness, rain, thunderstorms day after day for weeks. - 
Barbusse. - Correspondence, again and again on LTI. Everybody finds something 
else interesting about it, everybody has some piece of advice, in addition, a 
correction. Some are self-important, some are moved. 

[■••] 


July 1 948 


259 


24th July ; Saturday afternoon. Greifswald 

[. . .] The nights feel cold and damp, the days tropically hot with thunderstorms 
that never come to anything. Eva still laid up - great problems with food, one 
pajok arrived and was less than a drop on a very hot stone. 

[..J 

The GSS car has just arrived. My Stralsund-Rostock-Schwerin-(Wismar) 
lecture tour is due to begin at 3 p.m. 


24th-27th July. GSS [Society for the Study of Soviet Culture] tour 
'Barbusse and Moscow', Stralsund, Rostock, Schwerin, Wismar 


25th July ; Sunday afternoon. Gorky House, Rostock 

[...] 

Here [Rostock] a very large, elegantly furnished Gorky House with a restaurant. 
The most elegant and plentiful lunch, soup, schnitzel, asparagus, two helpings 
of mashed potatoes - a feast. [...]. Then drive (fairly bleak 9 miles) to War- 
nemunde, on the beach there for a good hour and more. The eternally unchan- 
ging picture, 55 or 56 years ago, when I first saw the Baltic here, it was the same. 
Crowds in between the wicker beach chairs, heaps of children. More exactly the 
picture as in the Weimar years or 46 in Ahrenshoop. The bathers higgledy- 
piggledy. No: the women wear pants and breast bib, naked in between. Mostly 
unsightly figures. Big Sunday crowd, as if there had been no annihilation of 
millions. They go on living, they multiply. What do I have in common with 
these people? The people of my generation are dead. All these Baltic resorts look 
the same. Hotels and promenade, somewhere a bit of coast rising up and woods 
around. [. . .] 


27th July, Tuesday forenoon. GSS library room, Schwerin 
SMA yesterday not altogether pleasant. [Klemperer had been requested to 
call on [. ..] the Popular Education section of the regional Soviet Military 
Administration.] First the battle with stubborn guards, telephone calls back and 
forth, no getting through - 'go home!' - until Lieutenant Raissin (in civilian 
clothes) fetched me. Up many flights of stairs, a captain who spoke only Russian 
and had Raissin interpret. First of all: why was I leaving Greifswald? I had to 
convince him . . . Then: I should give him in writing what I thought necessary 
to reform Greifswald University. I: were I to give that directly to the Russians I 
would be considered dependent, in their pay etc ... Then I should send an 
appropriate farewell letter to Minister Griinberg. I promised to do so, but that, 
too, is very awkward for me [...]. 

[...] 


260 


The Lesser Evil 


lst-8th August , The Gdhren week. Wilhelm Pieck Trade Union Home 

[The Klemperers spend a week's holiday in Gohren on the Baltic island of 
Riigen.] 


3rd August , Tuesday morning. Verandah 

[. . .] But my landlord [the Klemperers' room is actually in a house a little away 
from the holiday home proper], master locksmith Marzahl is vox populi: Against 
the SED, of which he himself is a member, against the Russians. Accusations of 
bossdom, of corruption, of 'submissiveness to the Russians', police bribed by 
racketeers, the bosses keep quiet and guzzle, the refugees starve, anyone who 
opens his mouth 'disappears', the Russians take everything away etc. etc. etc. - 
It's just like the Weimar years. On our sea cruises of those days Eva often 
formulated it like this: ' Where is the Republic?' It is exactly the same today. Where 
is democracy? I do not believe in its durability, we sit - what is this WE? a hated 
minority, a very small one - we merely sit on Russian bayonets. The day the 
Russians withdraw we - i.e. Eva and myself - are dead people. / have no 
confidence in the situation. Worse: I do not believe in the worth of the things 
I espouse. To be sure, the idea of Marxism is pure. But are the Russians any less 
imperialistic etc. than the others? And why have we lost Stettin, do we have 
the Poles on purely German land? Because the Poles are being compensated in 
the west, for what the Russians took from them in the east . . . There are so 
many individual questions on which theory and practice are not at all in accord. 
And over and above all these political doubts: what is humanity to me, what is 
humanity? There is always only the individual, the self in its own little circle. 
And here everything is founded on murder - the countless sweet little chickens 
here, the handsome rabbits in Marzahl's cages - do they have immortal souls - 
why do we have to eat them, and what do the worms think, when the hen . . . 
and etc. etc. The worn-out banality of all these questions as to the meaning of 
it all will no longer let me go - a seaside holiday with time to reflect is not the 
thing for 66-year-olds with angina and without religion. [. . .] 

I now only note down whatever is of human and cultural-historical value, 
but in such a way, as if l were certain my Currucula were going to be continued, 
as if I were certain of the next few years. I hold to Marxism and Russia, as if l 
believed in them (in a double sense a) believed in them, b) were confident in 
backing them. And yet I do not know whether they possess the ultimate truth, 
and I certainly do not know whether they will win. But I shall not change 
horses. And it makes no difference at all, whether I am finished off by angina 
or a bullet. 


7th August , Saturday forenoon. Gdhren 

Countless chickens everywhere, countless chicken. The chickens will be slaugh- 
tered, the children will shout heil Hitler and be killed in the next war. 


August 1948 


261 


... I must get down to work again, here I feel like a wandering ghost . . . Back 
at about 7, very early to bed. 

[...] 


8th August, Sunday forenoon. Gohren 

[...] 

[. . . From his table companions] I for the first time heard the new National 
Democratic and Peasant parties mentioned. 41 They were emergency valves and 
concessions by the SMA. Now I am paying for not having had a wireless in 
Greifswald; there was never enough time for the newspaper. 

Today we want to take [. . .] the afternoon steamer to Sellin; our luggage is to 
be brought on board at Baabe. I hope everything goes smoothly. 

[...] 

Work yield: a couple of sea novels by Peisson, 42 the whole of the Vogue 
dissertation 43 read, the Tolstoy in France dissertation begun. No notes made so 
far. 

At the moment rain has set in, bad for the afternoon walk. 


10th August, Tuesday evening. Greifswald 

Proofs of Modem Prose, desperate efforts to arrange furniture removal. 

Offer from Volk and Welt to E. to translate an American and a Spaniard. 

Dr Schon in Mainz, the manager of the Lerch Festschrift, has accepted my 
1934 Delille in its entirety. 44 But who will copy the study for me. And a Delille 
dissertation was published in Geneva in 1936 - where am I to get it? 


12th August, Thursday evening. Greifswald 

[. . .] All efforts to arrange furniture removal have failed. [. . .] Now we must 
somehow entrust the things to the railway after all . . . And our hand luggage, 
and the tomcat and changing trains in Berlin - the Kahanes are on summer 
holiday - and what awaits us in Halle? At some later point in time it may sound 
funny, at the moment it is truly tragic. [. . .] 


15th August, Sunday morning. Greifswald 

[Attempts to have the furniture transported by road or rail having come to 
nothing, they are now to be conveyed by canal taking about 2 weeks.] 

Torture of the Barbusse paper. I cannot let it go nor get on top of it. Alternation 
of repulsion and attraction. On the whole I find him narrow, uncongenial, 
obscurely pompous. [. . .] I still lack scattered material and I have to excerpt the 
material I have so far assembled here and return it as soon as possible, before 
I get down to writing. [. . .] I am so tired, I sometimes really wish, it were 
'time to sleep'. And always the inner uncertainty. How long will I be included 


262 


The Lesser Evil 


among the 'VIPs'? Am I still today? When will I finally make a fool of myself? 

I am even more tormented by another series of questions, the very banal ones 
as to the point or lack of it of one's life, as to the splendid bon Dieu. Barbusse's 
atheism is shallow. - I read (and make notes), in order not to think. 


19th August, Thursday forenoon. Greifswald 

Days monotonously filled up: every free minute devoted to preliminary work 
on Barbusse [...]. 

These free minutes are not many: the move is taking up an excessive amount 
of time. Everything has to be arranged x times over, endless telephone calls, 
running about by both of us. Latest, presumably definitive state of things: the 
furniture by boat, ourselves on the 23rd to Halle via Berlin by service train. [. . .] 
the apartment is supposedly ready for occupation, the chests have arrived from 
Dresden, there is no crockery yet. 


22nd August , Sunday. Greifswald 

Two pleasant mitigations of the bitterness: I am in the end not leaving here 
with an all-too-terrible rupture nor as a vanquished party. First, Friday evening. 
Ruth Sepke telephoned, could I attend a GSS meeting before leaving? To my 
embarrassment and surprise I found Schmidt-Walter, whom I had put out of 
sight and mind, as deputy chairman. At the end of the session he dedicated 
profuse valedictory words to me, liqueur was brought in, I was feted. Afterwards 
I said to Sch., actually I had 'written him off', but now I wanted to voice my 
bitterness to him. He accompanied me home. I should bear in mind how much 
he, as prorector, was 'ground down' [...]. Furthermore, he, too, was dissatisfied, 
and on the brink of leaving ...[...] He then helped me pack downstairs in the 
department for a while, we parted in friendship. - Then yesterday leave-taking 
at the Party. Sepke especially warm, first in his room, then downstairs in the 
canteen, again with liqueurs. [. . .] S. apologised after a fashion and sang my 
praises. He was forced to admit that to a great extent I was right, he had not 
sufficiently appreciated my 'outstanding intellectuality', we had not got to 
know one another well enough [...]. It was all pure cordiality, and we parted 
the best of friends ... I realised on this occasion, that it was not such a minor 
post that S. occupied. My insight into the Party hierarchy, which began in 
Dresden and continued here, is very important to me. Soviet Germany is now 
a closed piccolo mondo of its own, the SED the central point within it, a 
domicile not without risk, but the most important one. And the same people 
constantly rushing back and forth within it. 

[...] 

[. . .] What impressions does Greifswald leave? The bare room, in which every 
sneeze and clearing of the throat rolled like thunder, the bare windows with 
their eternal glare, the unusable bathroom, never-ending bohemian conditions, 
the permanent state of being in the middle of a move, the feeling of home- 


August 1948 


263 


lessness. [. . .] More pleasant only the two poplars to the left out of the bedroom 
window, and behind to the right the stork's nest on the tall chimney - now and 
then the couple stood side by side - but I never saw the beasts approach or fly 
off. 

We were here for exactly 256 days: from 9 Dec. 1947-23 Aug. 1948. 


23rd August , 10 Kiefemweg, Halle 


27th August ; Friday morning 

On the extreme N W boundary of the town, in the midst of heath and woodland 
[. . .] E. is again and again entranced by this landscape, she also very much 
approves of the pleasant big city of Halle - over 300,000 inhabitants - and just 
as her constant gloominess and bitterness about Greifswald paralysed me, so 
does her immediate and daily increasing harmony with the facts of the physical 
and political geography comfort me now. Otherwise I do not believe much will 
have changed for me here, whether for good or bad. Except that the chaotic 
initial stage has to be endured once again. 

I can be brief, because everything consists merely of variations on familiar 
phenomena and conditions. The journey on Monday in part torture. Pain in 
the early morning on the way to the station, walking behind the porter's 
handcart. 6 heavy and unwieldy pieces of luggage, in addition the tomcat in 
his cardboard box, who engaged E/s attention entirely. At Stettin Station [in 
Berlin] fortunately the ADN car (ordered by teleprinter); but the train arrived 
very late and then at Anhalt Station a most pig-headed capo, who raised 
difficulties about allowing me onto the service train and who repeatedly chased 
me up and downstairs between booking office and platform. At the very last 
second onto the train, which was almost moving off, with all our things - E. 
lugged, a conductress helped . . . Very serious pains, my heart about to give up, 
deepest depression. In Halle at 3.30; after some waiting and telephoning 
Himpich appeared with a car. 

Here the anticipated chaos of the most inadequate provisional arrangement - 
but good will on all sides and, see above, E.'s good mood. The chests from 
Dresden are here - when will the things from Greifswald arrive? Himpich has 
had a couple of impossible items of furniture placed in the apartment, which is 
in itself pleasant and decently renovated. A double bed, onto which the mat- 
tresses do not fit - I am sleeping on the floor, nowhere to put things away, no 
tables etc. A terrific muddle. But Volkssolidaritat [People's Solidarity] is going to 
deliver further provisional pieces and soon - so they swear - new ones which 
will belong to us. [. . .] Everywhere papers, half-unpacked chests, a kitchen range 
without stove pipe, lamps without bulbs etc. etc. Great distance from the town - 
but wonderful woods and heath . . . This whole day I have not read or written a 
line, constantly on the go and in the evening dead tired to bed at 10 or 10.30. 
It will go on like this for days yet - especially as I am speaking in Leipzig on the 
30th (Kulturbund), on 4/5 Sept, in Schwerin (KB and GSS). 


264 


The Lesser Evil 


I shall summarise the most important facts: 

Letter from Gusti Wieghardt: Maria Lazar 45 already died at Easter. Shook me 
very badly. Visit by Gusti to be expected in Sept. 

Very friendly reception by the KB - already elected in absentia to the regional 
committee (unfortunately not the executive . . . nevertheless!). Secretary Finke. 
Even more warmly by the GSS. Secretary Heinrich Wagert, chairman Winter, 
who lives above and is His Magnificence, the Rector, Prof, of East European 
History, lively fifty-something, Sudeten German, very close to the SED, except - 
diplomatic! - not a member. Wagert immediately helped me with a telegram to 
Schwerin, with cigarettes, with his car. - Page proofs have arrived a) of the 2nd 
ed. of the LTI, b) of the 3rd ed. of the Modem Prose (non omnis moriar?? 46 And 
if so - is it a comfort?). [. . .] Yesterday evening young Vahlen was here, the civil 
servant who deals with the actual higher education work under Thape and 
Halle. [. . .] 

Towards evening 

Especially exasperating and wearying errands for a little food. We shall not 
obtain our regular food coupons here before 1 Sept, at the earliest; the univ. - 
an estate owner as in Greifswald - will have to help. From pillar to post. 

[...] 


29th August Sunday afternoon. Halle 

Still chaos without end. [. . .] New identity cards with finger prints are being 
demanded here - police, labour office etc.: that will cause us x vexations yet, 
and the problem of food ration cards for 1 Sept, is still unsolved. Further 
complicated by the present shortages and by the necessity of obtaining an OdF 
[Victim of Fascism] identification for E. [. . .] 


1st September Wednesday forenoon. Halle 

[...] 

Leipzig on Mon. 30 Aug. (my first, my first in my whole life, talk in Leipzig). 

[Klemperer first calls at Teubner, his publisher.] I consider it a great triumph, 
how much I am now valued at Teubner. The conversation [with 3 editors] 
turned almost immediately to Teubner's periodical plans. [Klemperer argues for 
a general intellectual forum for the East - with himself in charge - rather than 
a specialist academic journal. Such a 'popular' publication would deviate from 
the academic tradition of the house.] I: I used to feel offended, when I was 
called a 'journalist'. Now - one must be both scholar and journalist. [. . .] I do 
not want any contributors from the West - I want to show the West that the 
East is carrying on and giving a lead in extending the Western things. [. . .] Later 
Weise [a senior editor] put in: he would keep on prodding me, so that my 
18ieme did not remain a torso, he wanted my Modem Poetry expanded, my 
collected essays, my 19th Century . . . 

[...] 


September 1948 


265 


I telephoned Werner Krauss who was sick in bed. I telephoned the secretary 
of the Gewifa [Social Science faculty]. The head people all on holiday but I have 
announced myself and now everything will get moving, the first contact has 
been made. 

[...] 


2nd September , Thursday afternoon. Halle 

Yesterday evening in the Schutzenhaus the Alexandrow Ensemble of the Soviet 
Army. (Song and dance.) Great crush, most tremendous applause - I, too, 
clapped until my hands were sore. [. . .] Also performed was the favourite song 
of the Russian shoemaker soldiers in the yard of our Jews' House in Zeughaussstr. 
who more or less saved my life. 

[..J 


13th September , Monday. Halle 
Berlin trip 7th and 8th Sept. [. . .]. 

The journey itself relatively good despite the usual aches. There: dawdling 
'express train' 5.50-10.30 a.m., back a good service train 12-3.30 p.m. Help 
through Mackie's car. Usual hostility to Russians and SED on the part of the 
[travelling] public [...]. I add the Berlin disturbances, which Schober told me 
about yesterday - the red flag pulled down from the Brandenburg gate! 47 And 
His Magnificence Winter's report on people's indifference to the Victims of 
Nazism ceremonies. Hopeless. 

[Kulturbund Executive Committee meeting. Friedensburg is suspended from 
the KB for 'anti-Soviet and pro- war agitation' and Klemperer joins in con- 
demning him.] Afterwards I asked Abusch whether I had been too harsh. He, 
beaming, 'very nice if we don't have to do it all ourselves and someone from 
the country - (this, then, my modest role!) - relieves us of it.' In the evening 
Mackie told me he had recently spoken to Ackermann about me. A. had 
said with 'friendly irony': 'the old firebrand, especially when it's against his 
professorial colleagues - he's sometimes almost too impetuous for us.' [. . .] 

[At the invitation of the rector the Klemperers attend a small reception at the 
university on the occasion of the Victims of Nazi Persecution ceremonies]: light 
lunch - my first glance at such events now: which set of cutlery? With or 
without knife = with or without meat. This was without knife. A little music, a 
little conversation, a little boring from 11-1. [. . .] I feel awkward with the VVN 
pin, I fear, I know the new anti-Semitism. Today I fetched the magnificent and 
very heavy packet Berthold Meyerhof had sent for E.'s birthday from the railway 
post and was inadvertently still wearing the needle. Pin plus packet from abroad: 
decidement trop! 48 A gentleman addressed me: 'Juif?' 49 He was one, too, he is 
being taken to Palestine by air plane, the state of Israel has its own air fleet 50 . . . 
I shall always remain between stools. 


266 


The Lesser Evil 


Otto Klemperer, musician, conducted in Dresden yesterday, Mozart and Mahler; 
we listened on the wireless, Eva speaks of him in the highest terms. He was also 
supposed to play in Halle. That came to nothing. From Dresden Lotte Sussmann 
wired greetings to us on his behalf, we should meet him in Leipzig (impossible) 
or Berlin . . . Psychology of the little man: [I] used to be afraid of Otto, enviously 
afraid. Now I am the author of the LTI, on the Executive Committee [of the 
Kulturbund], double university professor, a big name. But for all of that, I feel 
inwardly uncertain and small. 

Strange feeling: I have lent Anny Kl. 2,000M out of the royalties for the LTI. 
I as moneylender to Berthold's widow. Life is very strange, it all balances out. 

[...] 


19th September , Sunday evening 

[...] 

This afternoon a short walk with E. in the curious heath terrain ante portas 
nostras, 51 the second in these 4 weeks in Halle. Autumnal fogginess, very 
melancholy mood of the landscape and of my soul. 


23rd September , Thursday 

[...] 

Today Barbusse volumes arrived from the Berlin university library; yesterday 
I had a letter from Wendt [Aufbau], he would very much like, as I suggested, to 
publish a small monograph on Barbusse, so I shall now presumably continue 
working on this child of sorrows. [. . .] 

Telegram from Dressel: 'Annemarie departed this life 17 Sept. It did and then 
again did not shake us. For us she had long ago become lifeless and virtually 
dead. But all this survival! We are ancient. 'Departed this life' - happy, he who 
can think like that. Dressel is married to the daughter of a theology professor. 
But I still hear and see Annemarie before me. I no longer remember the occasion. 
I asked her in some connection: 'Can you really believe that?' That was God 
and immortality. She responded with almost tender dismay: 'But Victor- Don't 
you??* 2 


28th September ; Tuesday forenoon. Halle 

Chaos as before. [. . .] 

Oppressive correspondence obligations. [. . .] Vossler, sick, sends word, he still 
does not have LTI. I must send him the book. Likewise it must now be sent to 
the USA and Latin America. [. . .] Long letters from Marta and from Willy Jelski. 
[...] 

Every evening, every night noise of aircraft. I always thought: Russian exer- 
cises. [. . .] Then I realised: these are Anglo-American aircraft of the 'airlift'. 

[. . .] Perhaps I should devote the remainder of my life not to the Literary 


October 1948 


267 


History, but to the Curriculum [i.e. autobiography]. The success of the LTI 
shows after all, that I have something to say and am listened to. 


5th October , Tuesday evening. Halle 

[. . .] Later a Defa feature film 1-2-3 Corona. 53 Very nice, but can hardly be called 
educational and new art. [The occasion was the opening of a model cinema by 
the Ministry of Public Education.] Adolescents going to the bad in bombed 
Berlin; stealing, black marketeering amidst ruins. Into the middle of this a 
sentimental circus business. A horde of youngsters look after a circus girl who 
has had an accident because of them, set up a circus themselves. The two 
mistakes: so many circus talents in one gang! And: the circus as a factor of 
democratic renewal worth aspiring to, the circus performance as an artistic and 
moral model deed! . . . For all that actually the first time that I again felt gripped 
by a film as in the old days. [. . .] 

[Klemperer has a conversation about his appointment with Koch, 54 the dean. 
Kl. had been called by the government, before consultation with the faculty. 
The more reactionary members of the faculty, according to Koch, had been 
against Klemperer and for a former pg, Joachim Storost . . .] Schober has nothing 
good to say about Koch or Storost . . . Whom can I trust? No one and least of all 
myself. Everyone is hostile to me and I must conceal my ignorance and play 
the part of the scholar. 


8th October , Friday 

[...] 

This morning the 2nd faculty meeting, 20 people. [. . .] Present was Rita Hetzer, 
back from [the Party school at] Klein-Machnow, she will now be lecturer in 
Marxist philosophy at the Theatre and Music Academy. She is quickly to do her 
doctorate with us. Inspired by Barbusse's Zola I gave as topic: The naturalist 
school's relationship to politics. Later (later because a difficult and lengthy task) 
she herself wants to write about the influence of capitalism on linguistic forms. 
I said, as if it were a matter of course for me: 'Study the Restoration period 55 and 
start with Balzac!' [. . .] 


10th October , Sunday towards evening 

I have just read over what I wrote on 9th Oct. 4 7 56 [Klemperer's birthday]. As 
far as my inner life is concerned I could repeat it word for word with respect to 
yesterday. Only: Greifswald was no help, I have achieved nothing this whole 
year, and in Halle + Leipzig my energies will be even more fragmented than in 
Greifswald. The Winters congratulated me very nicely, the registrar sent a basket 
of flowers with official greetings, Becher (personal signature: Johannes R. B., 
not 'KB' like the last time!) a telegram. Mixed feelings. I must adopt the view: 


268 


The Lesser Evil 


it makes no difference what use you make of the remainder of life you have 
been granted. As long as it is indeed made use of. [. . .] 

In the evening there was a meeting of the 'University Works Group' at the 
Party House. About 40 present. Comrade Schober chaired. [. . .] In all faculties, 
instead of the previous general philosophy class, there is to be an obligatory 
course of lectures on Marxist philosophy and economics. It is not supposed to 
be imposed by decree, rather the faculties are supposed to decide on it 'vol- 
untarily'. [. . .] The matter will go smoothly, because with the new revolutionary 
dictatorial statute WE have an absolute majority in the Halle senate, and, 
as Winter emphasised, in the faculties the reactionaries have become tame. 
Voluntary tameness out of fear of forced retirement. (I know, of course, that 
this is the same method as in the Hitler period. Only - unfortunately! - applied 
more tamely and less consistently.) [. . .] So on Saturday - E. had baked a great 
many cakes and arranged a proper birthday table for me: a waste-paper basket 
she had painted herself, a bedside rug, a fountain pen, an electric lighter - the 
Winters came to congratulate me. The conversation touched on the Eastern Jews 
and on Zionism - Wendt has asked me to change the Hitler-Herzl comparison, I 
had been criticised for it; I replied, that it was clear from my chapter that Herzl 
was no Hitlerian, apart from which I detested Jewish nationalism - I could not 
change anything in my text - and Winter proved to be very philo-Semitic and 
almost Zionist. The Eastern Jews were such good people, and if the Jewish 
nationalists were also behaving very badly (just now: the murder of 
Bernadotte), 57 they nevertheless deserved our compassion and were very brave. 
[•••] 


13th October , Wednesday evening 

So yesterday I lectured for the first time here at Halle University; I had a bit of 
stage fright beforehand. Will I be able to conceal my ignorance until the end 
here also? - Fewer students than in Greifswald; there I was an attraction, here I 
am one among many. The Voltaire Lecture Theatre seats 98 people - there were 
about 50, Rita H. says, that many had never come to a Romance literature 
lecture here. After that I gave out Stael papers in the seminar. I think 15 
participants, all, except one, senior or very senior students. 


15th October, Friday evening. Halle 

Yesterday [annual] dies academicus. [Inter alia, Winter officially replaces the 
'theological and reactionary Eissfeldt' as rector. Klemperer expresses interest in 
taking a joint seminar with Winter, a historian . . .] Topics and plans everywhere 
and nothing will come of it all. [. . .] 


October 1948 


269 


21st October , Thursday morning (and later). Halle 

So yesterday, 20 Oct., 3-7 p.m. lectured in Leipzig for the first time. What an 
inner triumph, and how small and pitiable de facto! This Jews' school, this 
chaos, this badly organised Party institution which calls itself Gewifa and is 
domiciled on one floor of 3/5 Goethestr.! The 'big name' professors had not yet 
begun, no one had announced that I would really come on the 20th, the 
students had not been informed. A good dozen did nevertheless turn up, I 
consoled myself with the thought that the number would increase and those 
present appeared to like my Voltaire. But then the seminar - here they said 
'study group', which corresponds more to the Party language. Six people, 
comrades. Not one could speak French, not one had a clue as to what lay behind 
the title of my class, none of them had ever heard the name Stael before. In any 
case: the whole arrangement of the Culture lectures, the whole Culture Working 
Group was new, I was the first person to have a teaching appointment for it 
[. . .] I now explained to them who Stael was, how much could be learned from 
this book, and how it was the task of the SED to have intellectual weapons in 
its hands etc. etc. Finally, students, comrades, you must win over the others, 
not for me, but for the cause . . . etc. etc. They said, the seminar would no doubt 
be a success, I would also find people to give papers using German translations; 
one female student even wanted to try to read the French text ... I do not see 
how I shall make something of this seminar [...]. 

Our luggage has arrived, one bookcase has been set up, first attempt to clear 
up the chaos - naturally also time-consuming. My proof copy of the LTI has 
turned up, and so before anything else that has to be read through - I have 
already had a reminder. [. . .] 


31st October , Sunday evening. Halle 

Work and dissipation of energy overwhelming, everything is at a standstill 
because of this too much ... E.'s health very poor - coughing, affected lung? 
Heart? [. . .] 

Very brief addenda 

On Saturday 23 and Saturday/Sunday 30/31 Oct. at last read Massacres de Paris 
in E.'s excellent translation, for which I am to provide the afterword on the 
Commune. Ordered Lavisse yesterday. 58 Leafed through Aragon a little for the 
Modern Poetry, which is supposed to be ready in 2 weeks! That, apart from 
rushed and inadequate lecture etc. preparations, is all that I have managed 
recently. Terrific arrears of correspondence. 

[...] 

On Sunday 24 Oct. Lotte Sussmann here, who was completing a psychiatry 
course in Leipzig. [. . .] She complained [. . .] bitterly about anti-Semitism. In the 
psychiatry ward a female patient refused to allow herself to be treated by 
'the Jewess' . . . Then she talked about her meeting with Otto Klemperer. His 
conducting was brilliant, he had been very cordial to her [...]. He had left Los 
Angeles because of the anti-Semitism. He had to engage 10 new people for his 


270 


The Lesser Evil 


orchestra. His choice had been refused, because 8 of the 10 were Jews. In 
Budapest on the other hand his situation was good, the city was called Judapest. 
One son is an actor in New York and a daughter is a secretary or correspondence 
clerk in London or Paris. He had emphatically asked after me and Lotte had 
immediately had to give him the LTI, about which the Wangenheims 59 had 
told him in Berlin. She had wired me on his behalf. (But so far he has not 
written to me. I cannot run after the famous cousin - 'Are you related to the 
famous musician?' Still: the difference is no longer as great as before. I am an 
important figure and author of the LTI [. . .]). 

On Wed. 27 Oct. Leipzig. A) at the station here meeting with Weise/Teubner 
[...]. Discussion of the Mod. Poetry. It should be before the unpredictable 
'Cultural Advisory Council' by mid-November. Werner Krauss is to provide an 
opinion on the Mod. Poetry as an 'essential textbook'. 'If the names Klemperer 
and Krauss are underneath it, then they cannot reject it.' [. . .] B) Journey to L. 
With E. immediately to Krauss in the Romance Languages and Literatures 
Department for several hours. After we had discussed our Mod. Poetry business, 
there appeared the just appointed Hans Mayer ('Your Buchner book is one of 
the best that I have read recently' - i'll return the compliment immediately: 
Your LTI . . .' etc.) [. . .] He is director of the new Culture section of the Gewifa. 
[. . .] My lecture again only poorly attended, but a little better than the first time. 
And it seemed to find favour. After that the seminar. I now ran it as a colloquium 
and talked almost the whole time and almost alone about culture and civilisation. 
[. . .] Trude Ohlmann is without any doubt whatsoever at death's door. An awful 
resemblance to the late Annemarie. The fat swollen face, the terribly swollen 
hands. She says starvation oedema, says she weighs only 6 stone. Once again 
this wasting away leaves me terribly cold. And again, as so often in recent years, 
this hideous sense of triumph: I am 12 years older and will go on living. And 
always this mixture of indifference and dull fear: when will it be my turn? 

On Wed. and Thurs. 28 and 29 Oct. in Berlin. Out early together feeling very, 
very tired. [. . .] The professional central point of the trip was the unpleasant LTI 
discussion with Wendt, which Abusch also joined. The Zion chapter is held to 
be impossible; Wendt says even a negative comparison with Hitler is offensive, 
Abusch declares obstinately, any similarity, because Herzl was not a Fascist. I am 
made out to be a an anti-Semite, a pistol is held to my head. Delete the chapter 
or alter it fundamentally, otherwise the new edition cannot appear. For a 
moment I wanted to abandon publication, but that would mean a rupture with 
the Kulturbund. [. . .] 

[...] 


Sth November , Friday 

Never-ending excessive rush, everything is left lying, health suffers - never- 
theless again and again it gives me pleasure. Vita activa, tempestuous old age, 
one has to be a fatalist and not reflect too much. 

On Tue., 2 Nov., after the lecture a couple of minutes with Rita Hetzer. Curious 
shared home: the illegitimate couple, Robi 60 and Rita and both their mothers 


November 1948 


271 


[...]. Then to the newly opened 'Government Guest House'. At small tables Paul 
Wandel, Thape, Halle, Vahlen, Elchlepp, His Magnificence Winter and the one 
and a half dozen SED academics of the 'uni'. [. . .] Paul Wandel - this was the 
purpose and the main point of the evening - made a serious speech about the 
new university line. The crucial sentence: 'The second phase has begun.' Since for 
the time being we have been definitively separated from the West, and since 
our SED forces at the universities have grown a little, we can now reform more 
vigorously. Our goal is the Socialist Republic and we are preparing the way for 
it. We can co-operate with the democrats for the moment, we do not need to 
throw out all the bourgeois academics - but where someone seriously impedes 
us, he has to go. [. . .] Overall the speech was an evident declaration, now we 
were going to be in earnest about the Red university. [. . .] It was a very pleasant 
evening, I came home after 1 a.m. with Winter in the Minister's car feeling very 
buoyant [...]. 

On Wed., therefore, I was in Leipzig, where I ran into Behrens, the dean of 
the Gewifa [Social Science Faculty]. [. . .] He, too, lamented Werner Krauss's poor 
state of health. He wants me to be firmly and permanently associated with the 
Gewifa. [. . .] It seems I shall sort everything out in a friendly fashion. Except 
the whole Gewifa makes a really unfortunate impression on me: a Party school 
attached to the university, without a proper programme, still feeling its way, 
and with very poorly prepared students, very disadvantageous^ separated from 
the old faculties and even more isolated and unscholarly than the education 
faculty. And Behrens complains that the students preferred to say 'Comrade' 
and did not maintain the necessary respect towards professors. 


14th November , Sunday. Halle 

Ratschow has diagnosed E. as having severe coronary dilation, she is evidently 
seriously ill. 

[...] 

On Sunday, the 7th, the big and exhausting anniversary of the October 
Revolution. In the morning from 11-2 a big banquet with plentiful alcohol in 
the municipal Schiitzenhaus [...]. More than 200 guests, senior officers of the 
SMA, toasts with interpreters. German speakers: Winter, Koenen, 61 Hiibener, 62 
the prime minister [of Saxony- Anhalt]. Looks like a dried up accounts clerk, 
speaks well, educated, with sense of humour, noticeably cooler than our [i.e. 
SED] people. It [Russia and Germany(?)] should be a 'marriage of inclination', 
deriving from marriage of convenience - love matches result in so many 
divorces, inclination can turn to love . . . Everyone else, including the Russians, 
spoke of friendship, common efforts for peace, for a united Germany . . . Came 
back very fatigued (all the food, all the drinking!), with the pressure of the 
evening before me. - Then in the Volkspark [. . .] over 1000 people. Wagert 
recited Mayakovsky's 'October Revolution' He spoke very well, and for the first 
time I got something from Mayakovsky and I could place him in a context: 
Whitman. Then myself. While speaking I was constantly thinking: is it suitable 


272 


The Lesser Evil 


in front of this crowd, is it suitable in front of this majority of workers? Culture, 
civilisation, humanism - entirely without the cliches and bellowing of the 
functionaries. Afterwards Thape shook my hand: 'Only now do I see what a 
good catch for the university we made with you!' Ambiguous compliment in 
that place! No one else expressed a word of thanks. Hiibener, whom I had after 
all addressed: 'Prime minister, Ministers' etc., disappeared like all the other 
bigwigs from the parties etc. I stood by myself. Albrecht, the secretary, said: 
'The Party bosses will say, it wasn't political enough.' In the days that followed 
I heard everywhere in response to my question: Very nice, but for the workers 
(who had probably not been expected in such large numbers) perhaps a little 
too high-flown. The whole thing has left something of a bitter taste. I am 
squandering myself. 

[...] 

On Wed. 10 Nov. Leipzig, f. . .] Then Hans Mayer's guest for lunch. Very 
elegant furnished apartment, very sumptuous meal. M. very evidently the 
political VIP with important foreign connections. He is the senior chairman of 
the VVN for its foreign relations, in the next few days he's flying to an inter- 
national meeting in Brussels. That absorbs him more than his chair in Cultural 
History at the Gewifa. He is a trained lawyer [. . .] was able to emigrate to 
Switzerland - bachelor, [. . .] simple and unpretentious, not conceited in his 
manner. We wanted to co-ordinate our lectures [but were interrupted . . .] 

In recent weeks I had 3 letters from the Vosslers, 2 from him, one from Emma 
V. Very warm appreciation of my LTI, very bitter complaints about Munich 
conditions. [. . .] 

Letter from Lerch with the typescript of his completely bloodless review of 
my LTI , politically and philologically equally bloodless, nothing but a lexical 
compilation. He has thus far attempted in vain to place this harmless stuff with 
six Western newspapers and asks me whether I can explain these rejections. 63 
Of course I can: because my book smacks of the Soviets, because it talks about 
the Nazis. The enmity of the two Germanies is now quite blatant. 

[...] 


16th November , Tuesday forenoon 

[...] 

On the return journey [talk to trades union representatives at the Leuna 
chemical plant], from 12 until about 1, dense crowd on the market place: 
opening of the 'Free Shop' [i.e. no ration cards required' 64 ] LTI. Most ques- 
tionable business. 


25th November , Thursday afternoon 

My present life must lead to catastrophe; it is becoming ever more rushed and 
fragmented - and I cannot make up my mind to change it - and as things stand 
I cannot even really change it. Weise said to me: 'one day it will be said: "earlier 


December 1948 


273 


he wrote important things, then he slid into politics." ' There is some truth to 
that. 


[...] 


3rd December, late afternoon Friday. Halle 

[. . .] I shall have to complete the Modern Poetry during the Christmas holidays. 
To be able to concentrate on the silly Surrealists (Nadeau 65 ) today (and yesterday 
a little) was the exception, lectures and talks eat me up, Leipzig is a great strain 
(because of the travelling, the wasted hours in between, also the preparation) 
because I cannot present anything aesthetic and philosophical to this audience 
at the Gewifa and so have a great need of material. [. . .] 

On Friday, 3 Dec., came the setback. Thape, the education minister has gone 
to Berlin west and has written to the Party from there, that he is not coming 
back. Treachery! The abandoned ministry. Otto Halle in Klein Machnow, Thape 
in Berlin west, Ludwig Einecke a novice, Vahlen young and in ill health. Who 
will be minister? Frau Winter says: ' You would be the right man.' I really would 
be and it could tempt me. But of course it will be some non-academic functionary 

[..J. 

[...] 


12th December, Sunday forenoon 

[...] 

On the aft. of Friday, 10 Dec., KB session. [. . .] In the further course of this 
meeting [. . .] I was then elected second regional chairman of the Kulturbund 
[...]. The election was of course fixed beforehand. - At about 5.30 I drove to 
Magdeburg in a rented car with a cautious elderly driver. We reached our goal 
at about 8, the lecture had been announced for 7, a few of the audience had 
already left, but I nevertheless made a very big impression - Barbusse - on about 
50 people [...]. I was virtually feted. [. . .] Home at 2 p.m., E. got up, we drank 
tea - then preparation for 'internal instruction' (my 'Workers' Blood, Students' 
Blood' with an expanded section on students in modern times). To bed at 5, 
out at 7, at university in the car by about 8. From 8.15-almost 10 spoke with 
absolute freshness and conviction. The great hall really half full. But who 
followed, who understood? These political instruction sessions are obligatory, 
and are belligerently rejected as SED compulsion, those in the back rows are 
said to be sleeping, reading etc. And not believing anything . . . And again: Who 
understands? Listeners: from the cleaning woman to the registrar - all of the 
university's employees. [. . .] But I flatter myself, that I did nevertheless touch 
one or other person ... To a certain extent I can have some respect for my 
achievement: Thurs. LTI, Fr. Barbusse, Sat. Students 1848-1948 - My old topics 
to be sure, but I always have to spin them out differently, prepare my thoughts, 
concentrate ... Is it worth it? I waste and abuse what is left of my strength. The 
eternal dilemma. Vanitas. 


274 


The Lesser Evil 


1 6th December, Thursday forenoon 

Yesterday concluded the first half-semester at Leipzig with a sense of deep 
disillusion. [. . .] Chaotic playing around and pseudo-university. 4, 5 people 
there at the beginning, gradually turning into a dozen. I preached (not for the 
first time): 'Don't let our enemies have it their way, they are always taunting us 
about our sham scholarship, take the elements of education seriously!' It is the 
same every Wednesday: at the beginning there's no one there, they run off 
before the end: we had to go to that meeting, we must go to that paper, etc., etc. 
[. . .] Presumably the situation is at its worst in the new 'Culture' section, but I 
do not get the impression that there is any greater discipline in the other 
departments. [. . .] Between 7 and 9 Werner Krauss was with me in the secretary's 
office. Some of his conversation is so learned, that I always say only yes, yes 
and inwardly feel like a nonentity. The rest: bitterness towards Wartburg and 
Neubert; but he wants neither himself nor me for the Berlin chair but his 
personal friend Auerbach, who is stuck at a small USA university. He spoke very 
harshly of S[. . .], who had been a very active Nazi in Austria and had betrayed 
a student Resistance group in Strasbourg . . . Lerch was a 'twit'. [. . .] 

[...] 

On Thurs. morning - I am in a bad way again - to the skin clinic at last. 
Another sulphur rub, which of course attacked my skin. Prof. Jacoby [. . .] was 
in Sachsenhausen concentration camp, is on the executive committee of the 
VVN, speaks very pessimistically. 66 Constantly increasing anti-Semitism, also 
in the SED. His daughter is isolated and discriminated against at school. If the 
Russians were to leave, we would immediately get a new Hitlerism. [. . .] 


17th December, Friday afternoon 

Yesterday morning I undertook a doctoral examination for the first time in my 
life. At 67, after having been a professor for 28 years. Gisela von Remitz, 32, 
widow of a senior civil servant, [...]: Vital consciousness, Love and Women in 
German Neo-Romantic Drama. Much Freudisme, representation of the prostitute, 
of the sex drive etc. A great deal of material, nothing in terms of ideas. French 
as subsidiary subject, and a chapter of the dissertation superficially compiles 
French influences [...]. I had actually intended to give the woman a hard time: 
but she certainly knew her stuff. I gave her a II but shall make sure that she is 
marked Good (cum laude) and not Very good, as Schneider, her supervisor, would 
like. 


24th December, Friday, Christmas Eve 

The most hypocritical festival in every respect, generally and personally, always 
uncongenial to me and deeply depressing for me even today. Although actually 
no particular cause for depression. If we were both not suffering from heart 
disease and fairly close to the pointless end of a fairly pointless life, and if I 
were not terribly tormented by scabies and even more terribly by the Mod. 


December 1948 


275 


French Poetry, we could in fact be content. Above all by comparison with the 
previous Christmas in Greifswald. [. . .] For E. I bought a pound of green coffee 
for 110M - illegally through a miss from the regional bank, and 'good' cigarettes 
at 80 pfennigs each and a little perfume, and she is to get a picture by the 
executed Schulze for 600 or 700M. 

[...] 


28th December, Tuesday night 

After scaling the heights of taedium 67 and despair yesterday and today, I resolved 
to add to the Poetry volume a short appendix, which will deal only with the 
Resistance and only include a couple of decipherable poems by Aragon and 
Eluard. 68 My starting point Vossler, to whom I shall perhaps dedicate the book. 


31st December, Friday evening 

In the morning in a cold wind with E. - a rare walk together - over the 
Brandberge, freshly dug foxholes and stretches of trench from a Russian exercise, 
frozen puddles, the strangely wild bare landscape, [. . .] the woods, the wintery 
fog, at the edge of the city ... To the police office for the new identity card, the 
uniform one for East Germany. Povera piccola Germania. 69 

We were supposed to spend this evening with a very small circle of the friends 
of the GSS in the guest house; there was no car, we are here alone. On the 
wireless as usual: 9th Symphony and Fledermaus. Thoughts: how many dead! 
And whether one will ever know, what was the point of it all? I am not at all 
afraid of the 'eternal judge' - only nothingness irritates me. 

Resume 48 

In fact produced nothing at all. The Students-Workers address and a couple of 
little articles. But have asserted myself as a university teacher. In Greifswald, in 
Halle, in Leipzig. And many lectures. 

The newly added worry: E.'s poor state of health. 

In the last few days: the Modem French Poetry. 

The Zion annoyance in relation to the LTI. 



1949 


3rd January ; Monday forenoon 

Old people should not have any feast days. I am glad to have survived it once 
again. 

[...] 

While out walking yesterday Bennedik called on us with dog and little foster 
son. Passionately radical. He is now considered the favourite to succeed Thape. 
His advantage over other candidates: in 1945 he joined the SPD and not the 
KPD - 'quite by chance'. And now, for the sake of parity, it must be someone 
from the SPD and not the KPD. But Ludwig Einecke is a KPD man. (And 
Klemperer is, too.) And Max Lange is 'unreliable'. And Winter - there were 
people who doubted his sincerity. I said I thought him sincere, 'but simply an 
Austrian, hence pretty limp'. Horrible characteristic of the times: everyone 
suspects everyone else. [. . .] 

Aside from that spent the whole day brooding over the Poetry and finally, 
finally concluded the contortions of the short study. I must now devote the 
remainder of the holidays to completely finishing off the new edition, but 
essentially I have this work, which I have found so unspeakably difficult and 
unpleasant, behind me and can more or less enter it under 1948. [. . .] 


12th January, Wednesday forenoon 
Evening 

I telephoned Teubner at 8, Weise returned the call at 10, he was here at 1.30 
and until late afternoon (with a teabreak) went through my 'Appendix 1948', 
he left with the ms - now I really have been relieved of this nightmare. [. . .] 
The Teubner publishing house is being more thoroughly socialised [. . .] the 


278 


The Lesser Evil 


whole house is being incorporated into some large state organisation, appears 
to be becoming a section of a book combine. [. . .] 

On Sunday, 9 Jan., Vahlen visited me . . . About the ministerial question. The 
Party objects to professors. The question whether KP or SP is not important, 
Bennedik has no prospect - probably Einicke. We talked about the Party's 
disregard for the intelligentsia. With that I was on to the Rita Hetzer issue again. 
She is to take over an important official post, in charge of the student secretariat, 
a kind of 3rd deputy rector. 'Only part-time' - she can carry on the doctorate 
on the side. But 'on the side' she is already lecturing on Marxism at the drama 
academy, and 'on the side' she has x political tasks. I told Vahlen on the 
telephone today: There are laws for the protection of pregnancy - allow Rita to 
give birth to her book! She is to be my successor. The Party urgently needs 
scholars etc. etc., my same old song. [. . .] 


16th January, Sunday evening 

[. ..] Compromise [Rita Hetzer]: she will be occupied by this business [student 
secretariat] for only half a year and only half the day, nevertheless see to the 
department and muddle on with her doctorate. - Most interesting topic of 
our visit [to Hetzer/Schober]: the reciprocal mistrust inside the Party, the 
fanaticism of the younger generation: to these people no-one is 'a proper 
Marxist'. Virtually an atmosphere of inquisition. Some young people had also 
said it about me - Rita had forcefully defended me, the Party thought highly 
of me (really?) [. . .] 


28th January, Friday forenoon 

No possibility of seriously keeping the diary. Worries of all kinds and chasing 
around, work and pointless activity, too little sleep and ever more frequently 
the feeling: I wish it were time to sleep, and always surrounded by the dead, 
and always with the embittered revulsion against nothingness! 

[. . .] Food supply: the abundance of the Christmas days has been followed by 
weeks of increasing shortages, very bothersome with respect to tea and coffee. 
American and English parcels appear blocked, if not, indeed, confiscated. A 
couple of weeks ago we bought a \ kilo of coffee for 110M, from that E. gets a 
cup a day. We have enough tea for another 2 days in the house, and black tea 
is not to be had anywhere . . . The chaos among my and E.'s books and papers 
becomes ever more of a tribulation: we lack bookshelves and cupboards . . . All 
of it together: a steadily more distressing burden. 

[...] 

The Modem Prose is in the shops at last. But all trade in books with the West 
is blocked. 

At the faculty meeting last Sunday (22 Jan.) I moved that Vossler be given an 
honorary doctorate [. . .] and have probably already carried the matter to a 
victorious conclusion. [. . .] 


February 1949 


279 


Weise says: since 1945 you have produced only 'trifles', from a scholarly point 
of view LTI is 'only raw material and stimulus'. 

[...] 


2nd February ; 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. Gewifa office , Leipzig 

[...] 

KB Executive Committee, Berlin, Tue. 1 Feb. Drove at 7 in the morning with 
Hopp. Ghastly snowy and frosty weather the day before, now clear frost. Very 
fast journey, at 10.30 at the sector boundary in Berlin. Very strict check. German 
policeman: 'There are Jews(!) coming from the West, I make them get out, if 
they're walking stiffly, they've got a pipe with foreign currency down their 
trousers, I've already caught 4 out of 13 . . .' Why Jews?? Ineradicable. [. . .] Very 
good breakfast at Jagerstr. Telephoned Wendt, he sent a car. He was pleased 
when I accommodated his doubts - he 'had tried to make changes' over Christ- 
mas - with the following suggestion: omit 'Zion' now, put it in again in the 3rd 
or 4th edition. He immediately telephoned the printing works: carry on with 
LTI\ It will appear, mutilated, in 2-3 months. [. . .] I discussed the Dr h. c. for 
Vossler with Naas. The Central Administration will approve, especially as Vossler 
is now to be a member of the Berlin Academy. - There was nothing new at the 
committee meeting itself. [. . .] The big federal congress is to take place in 
Eisenach- Wartburg and Weimar - Goethe anniversary! 1 - Anny Kl. had me called 
out around midday - I had asked Peter to come. Difficult talking to her, when 
waiters are swarming around. Is she really so poor, or is she just becoming 
senile? I gave her 400M to help with Peter's studies, after I had transferred 
300M, my Reutlingen fee for the Salammbd introduction, from the French to 
the English sector for her. 


3rd February ; Thursday night (actually 4th February ; because it is 
almost 1 a.m.) 

[...] 

I received a pile of new books from Aufbau, and leafed through them long- 
ingly. Time, if only! Feuchtwanger's Success, 2 Kantorowicz's Spanish Diary. 3 
[.■■] 

At dinner during the Executive Committee meeting I met Arnold Zweig. Fat, 
dull ice-grey eyes behind thick spectacles, very old, very vain. He showed off 
with being translated into Chinese. 


4th February, Friday evening 

[...] 

Very depressed by E.'s state of health. She walks with a stoop, is frequently 
short of breath, in the evenings is almost always racked by pain, evidently 
seriously ill. The medicine, the second now, does as little good as the 


280 


The Lesser Evil 


injections did. On top of that the terrible chest cough, which reminds me of 
Annemarie. 


[...] 


12th February , Saturday afternoon 

Anniversary of father's death. If I had the childlike faith, that he was looking 
'down at me', then he would have less of a mixed pleasure in my life than I do 
myself. I wear myself out and flee from my proper work. Every day wearier, 
inwardly less satisfied - and always taking on more and always in a state of 
slight intoxication when I re-shuffle my same old couple of topics and am 
applauded for it. Hardly a day any more without a meeting or a paper or the 
like, my appointment book ever fuller, each lecture leads to invitations to give 
three more, and I never refuse. Correspondence and work piles up, I am unable 
to collect my thoughts. - My heart ever more burdened, ever weaker. And the 
increasing worry about Eva, who has heart problems every day, without the 
medicines applied being of the least use. 

[...] 

I have forgotten the most important thing about the KB day before that [on 
the 10th, part of a round of congresses and meetings]: Adolf Hennicke [the East 
German Stakhanov]. 4 He came from a big meeting in the same building and 
spoke a few words to us. Fine figure of a man with a clean-cut head, could just 
as well be a senior SS officer. Speaks quite well and clearly, sticks to the essentials: 
that he is not bringing more work and extra burdens, but simplification and 
planning. All of it of course in the tone of a functionary, of the practised speaker 
who has said the same thing a 1000 times, of someone officially celebrated and 
supported. He is accompanied by a small retinue, two policemen also remain 
at the entrance to the hall. Afterwards Kreuzig, the driver: there are always 
police with him, they are afraid he might be attacked. I remember people 
cursing him in Bitterfeld a while ago, that I was told there were whistles in the 
cinema when he appeared on screen. Many there consider him an exploiter and 
slavedriver of the underfed workers. [. . .] What is the truth? What did he really 
accomplish? What are he and the activists (LQI) really all about? 

[..J 

Letter from Vossler; he gripes about Thomas Mann's 'narcissism', what a 'sorry 
figure', who 'still finds fools enough, here and in America, to admire his 
exhibitionism'. [. . .] I replied at length: about the Dr h.c. proposal, about the 
'Appendix 1948', about the LTI and Zion. He complained again that the LTI 
does not get as far as Bavaria. 

LTI : Old intelligentsia, new intelligentsia. 

[...] 

The Israeli state is hoping for financial support from 'WORLD JEWRY' 
[Weltjudentum] (so as to be able to avoid the Marshall Plan). Official wireless 
news on 7 Feb. 49. 

[.••] 


March 1949 


281 


8th March , Tuesday forenoon. Addenda 

1) Berlin and Magdeburg, 1 and 2 March. Journey there with E. and Menner. 
[. . .] Tedious meeting. Preparation for the Kulturbund Wartburg celebration [. . .] 
Many, many speeches at cross-purposes, sterile repetition. E. at Volk und Welt 
meanwhile. - At 5.30 began our expedition to Judith Kwiet, school doctor 
in the American sector, Friedenau, 30 Offenbacherstr. Snowstorm, cold, ice, 
darkness, no car. Underground to Riidesheimer Platz. Then groped our way. The 
grave danger of our path between ruins, from which stones etc. were crashing 
down. The wind so strong, that it almost blew us over. 

No street number to be discerned, the house, when finally found, locked up. 
Shouted. E. and I both shouted. At last, from 4 flights up came help. Guided up 
with a few matchsticks. The west of the city has electricity only twice a day for 
2 hours. Upstairs, candles and a tiny petrol kitchen lamp. But very warm 
welcome in heated room. Some of the children abroad, Rena, Hans and the two 
smallest together with Ursel [. . .] there. Everything, inwardly and outwardly, as 
in Greifswald. Good food and cordiality. [. . .] Night in unheated room, there 
were holes in the windows, but we were under warm blankets. - E. stayed until 
the aft. and then went back in the car to Halle with Hopp as well as Dr 
Hoffmeister. I went to Friedrichstr. Station with Hans, the drama student. 
Journey to Magdeburg from about 9.30 to 1. [. . .] 

Saturday/Sunday 5/6 March: Barenstein. I took the usual train to Leipzig at 
10.30; at Teubner had a discussion with the half-Jewish production manageress, 
Fraulein [Landsberger], then talked over details of the celebration on the 17th. 
[. . .] At Teubner indignation at some people of the SED management, who want 
to banish Latin and Greek from all schools. I shall go into that in my speech. It 
will be called: Transformation of Humanism'. [. . .] [Difficult wintry journey 
from Leipzig to Schloss Barenstein near Dresden: training course for People's 
High School teachers. K. speaks on The People's High School in the Goethe 
Anniversary Year.'] In charge, Wilhelm Adam, the department head responsible 
for the People's High Schools in the Saxon ministry [. . .] Rewarding: Adam, the 
new man, with whom I shared a room and chatted to a great deal. 5 Very tall 
and slim, fair, a little Red Indian-looking [. . .] mid-50s, Rhinelander, his family 
in the West. Was at Stalingrad, adjutant to Paulus, 6 back from Russia only a few 
weeks ago. On the executive committee of the National Democratic Party. From 
him I heard about the party in greater detail for the first time: We are national 
and without class struggle, that is the programme and it is successful. [. . .] Except 
unfortunately: in the West they name all the Stalingrad officers who lead the 
party and talk about a camouflaged Communist Party. Nevertheless Adam 
believes in the success of the thing. He himself gave Plievier material [for his 
novel Stalingrad], says PL's portrayal is almost entirely right. Except that he, 
Adam, judges Paulus, who is also highly considered by the Russians, more 
favourably. [. . .] [Referring to his own talk Kl. says that now the Goethe salad - 
or mixture - is taking the place of his Russian-culture salad, a topic which can 
be infinitely adapted to suit place and audience. In passing, he laments how 
much of Goethe he does not know.] 


282 


The Lesser Evil 


20th March , Sunday evening 

[...] 

[Another round of talks for the Kulturbund: Dresden, Lobau, Gorlitz, Mond. 
21-Wed. 23 March.] E. will not be accompanying me; it would only be an effort 
for her, and the deaths of Steininger and of a friend of Lotte would cast a shadow 
on the friendship part [of the trip]. But I have a bad conscience, for it is in fact 
a relief, if she does not come with me - I am always somewhat constrained and 
depressed by concern for her state of health when she accompanies me on a 
trip ... I wish I were already back. 


10th April , Sunday 
Saxony trip 21st-23rd March 

The journey out with the worthy Kiihne as driver. Very picturesque and full of 
memories the stretch of the Elbe from Meissen on. Couple of minutes rest in 
Leipzig before that: Fraulein Zillner, Weise's right hand at Teubner, got the task 
of obtaining a wreath for Trude Ohlmann, whose death notice had arrived the 
day before. A deliverance for Trude O. and for us. We were dragging a dead 
woman along with us. [. . .] In the evening [of the 22nd, after Klemperer had 
promoted his interests at the Dresden education ministry] up at Renn's Cultural 
Sciences Institute. Full house. Loud applause. The Social Novel'. The serious 
people, Lotte Sussmann and Blume from the KB, said my really rounded achieve- 
ment had been the Aragon [the previous evening], the Social Novel was more 
of a relaxed chat. - In the crush after the lecture Erich Seidemann handed me 
the LTI folder, dedicated to me, from Dolzschen elementary school: essays and 
drawings by 13-and 14-year-olds after my LTI and the related schools broadcast. 
At that moment I was unable to thank him warmly enough and on Wed. 
afternoon drove up to Dolzschen. S. told me he was about to take the 'Current 
Affairs' lesson, extraordinarily important for those about to leave school, very 
much sabotaged by the passive resistance of the children, supported by the 
parents, to everything political. There, for the first time in my life, I gave a short 
political address to the children of an elementary school. Not pure SED in 
content, but for a necessary politicisation of thinking. [. . .] 

Kogan gave me Hermlin's attack on my Modem Prose in the Tagliche Rundschau 
newspaper. 7 He said: Write a reply, because it's an advertisement for your book, 
and you earn something as well! However, this ever-growing affair is not such 
a cheerful matter after all. On Sunday the 27th [. . .] I wrote a letter to Hermlin 
until 3 in the morning, the 'Dung Hill of Literary History', which I have 
meanwhile read to several people [...]. Will the article appear? In the meantime 
Theodor Liicke has written much more gently, but also critically in a lengthy 
article in Aufbau ... I shall not go into detail here, because there still remains a 
great deal to be said in public and in print. But seen privately, my position is 
also at stake in this. Between stools, always between stools - that should be my 
ex libris! 

[...] 


April 1949 


283 


On Thurs., the 31st, [. . .] to the faculty meeting. There I passionately supported 
a request from Jena University for backing in their struggle for hard-pressed 
Latin. Yesterday at the request of a librarian, I wrote a page with a similar 
argument for the wall newspaper of the only humanist educational estab- 
lishment here, the Franckeschule. 8 [. . .] 

On Saturday, 2 April, I travelled to Leipzig, quickly settled everything at the 
Gewifa, then spent a long time at Teubner, where they are anxious because of 
the Hermlin critique. [. . .] 

On Sunday, 3 April, coffee visit by Rita and Schober. Short walk in the woods. 
Always in a state of exhaustion. In the evening a real tonic for a few minutes, 
listening [on the wireless] to a boxing match in Leipzig; a true Mark Twain 
scene, the dissatisfied crowd KO'd the referee. 

[...] 

On Thurs., the 7th, I was in Leipzig again. Preliminary discussion for my 
lecture course: Thurs. 11-1 French Classicism, 2-4 colloquium on the lecture. 
Embarrassing farce. Half a dozen people. What will I do with them? If I were 
not concerned about the appearance of being professor in Leipzig as well, and 
about the 500M a month . . . God knows, with what I shall fill the colloquium. 
[...] 

Then yesterday, Sunday, 10 April, I. M. Lange was here all morning, the Vice- 
President of the Cultural Advisory Council [i.e. the censorship body] and chief 
editor of the Volk und Wissen [People and Knowledge] publishing house, the 
powerful man, who is very important to me: 9 1 made his acquaintance by chance 
on the telephone during one of my recent stays in Berlin [...]. After that there 
arose a correspondence on the Modern Poetry. [. . .] Recently he wrote fin great 
sorrow 7 because of Hermlin's attack. Did I not want to send Hermlin my Modern 
Poetry for advance perusal!!! - A grey-haired pale-eyed man, born 91. He spoke 
here on Saturday about modern literary studies ... He is very amusing, very 
vain, very sure of himself and his own importance. He is a veteran journalist 
and man of letters of the extreme left, despite illegal work somehow saved his 
hide. He wants to 'help 7 me. Sympathetically, as one helps a bourgeois of good 
will, whom one can make use of, in whom one disregards one thing or another, 
from whom one learns one thing or another. He wants to supply the right titles 
for the individual sections of a new edition of the Modem Prose - that is what 
counts! - In his favour: he is not really dissembling, he makes no bones about 
what is de rigueur. In literature he knows his stuff, he is familiar with the 
French. - Awkward really. He is so nice to me, because he can make use of me: 
because he wants to take his doctorate, and that's not possible in Leipzig, 
because he has fallen out with Werner Krauss. Besides, it is also a pleasure to 
patronise a respected professor and to present yourself to him as a powerful 
provider or denier of favour. And I for my part naturally have x reasons to keep 
in with the man. So we were very pleasant to one another for several hours over 
liqueur and cigarettes. He promised 1) to rush through the Teubner pamphlet 
and to reassure the publisher, 2) to make sure that something from my LTI is 
included in a school reader, 3) to make sure that my PLN review finally appears 
in Fomm. [. . .] 


284 


The Lesser Evil 


Up to date at last with the diary ... As if I could ever get around to my 
Curriculum! But yet one always has to pretend to oneself, that one believes this 
and that. 


18th April , Easter Monday forenoon 

[...] 

The affair of my Modem Prose has given me quite a shock. Theodor Liicke in 
Aufbau on the whole quite negative. Most unpleasant the letter I got from I. M. 
Lange yesterday. Humanly and politically unpleasant. Almost fawningly polite, 
since he would like to take his doctorate with me, after Werner Krauss turned 
him down - he, the vice-president of the secret court, had a theoretical conflict 
with Krauss over Marxism - simultaneously firmly against my conception. At 
the same time hypocritical. The book must, Taking account of all objectivity, 
of all devotion to scholarship, nevertheless above all be couched in such a way 
that it meets all the demands of our new democratic educational reform, which 
of course mutatis mutandis also applies to the universities . . . Revolutionary 
times must on occasion make do with considerable abridgements in order to 
accentuate the political line more strongly' . . . 'What is important to me as an 
admirer, and if I may say so, also in a small way a student of your writing, 
is not only that your reputation as an internationally recognised scholar is 
safeguarded, but that political progress also has a claim on you: and we must 
make this claim tangible and comprehensible to all/ - Revolting! Where is 
freedom. Linden [Nazi historian of literature] says race loyalty. Now the word is 
class-conscious. Not quite as poisonous, but it does not have anything to do with 
scholarship either. ( Race loyalty> class conscious: LQI.) 

[...] 


23rd April, Saturday evening 

[...] 

The honorary doctorate for Vossler has been approved by Berlin. It appears 
that I could present the diploma to him [in Munich] in person [...]. Mode has 
just reported that to me. But also that Vossler seems close to death. [. . .] With 
complete lack of feeling I said to myself: Then I shall speak at his grave, and 
then his oldest student has a chance of succeeding him in the Academy. 

[...] 

Every day my eyes are worse - double vision. Every day I feel more washed 
out. 

[...] 


25th April, Monday afternoon 

[...] 

With bitterness 1 see that the Tagliche Rundschau is not printing my reply to 


May 1949 


285 


Hermlin. Kogan told me Colonel somebody, one of the editors there, will be 
writing to me - thus far nothing has happened. 

[...] 

[A Russian music evening. Reflecting on the dances on stage, Klemperer 
wonders:] did we need the October Revolution for that? It's like the imperial 
divine service and Napoleon in Notre Dame. Likewise the acrobatic dancing: 
these are nice variety members. Musically I liked a pianist, an exciting toccata 
by Prokofiev, in some way reminiscent of Ravel's Bolero , nothing but rhythm, 
jungle drumming . . . Afterwards the big and elegant dinner at Pottel and 
Broskowski. But E. disappeared, came back feeling unwell - outside fainting-fit 
and vomiting - inside she collapsed again immediately. We led her outside; lift, 
car, to bed. It was wretched. The next day she was washed-out, otherwise all 
right. But always the bad cough, always the physical inhibition. We are both 
seriously threatened. 

[..J 


7th May , Saturday 

[..J 

Sunday, 1 May, was taken up with the May Day celebration. The tram was 
not running, a university car picked us up. Assembled by faculties on the 
university square. To one side Paula Hertwig with her well-ordered regiment of 
white-capped nurses. Bernard Koenen harangued from the steps of the main 
building. That was at about 9.30. Slow march off. Eva at the back in the disabled 
van - she was unable to see and hear anything. I with the rank and file. Beside 
me Mode, behind me Kofler and a number of female students. This row was 
able to sing, sang very nicely, very revolutionary and very international. The 
Song of the Red Sailors' ('Battleship Potemkin has cleared the decks!' 10 ), 'Avanti 
popolo alia riscossa, bandiera rossa!' 11 We marched in a fairly tight circle around 
the university for perhaps an hour. Crowds lined the route; somewhere a 
balustrade decorated with flags, drawn up in front of it a police detachment, 
behind them a good dozen beautiful horses - the present army of the state of 
Saxony- Anhalt. Finally we marched to the market square, many thousands were 
already standing there [...]. From somewhere the loudspeaker conveyed scraps 
of the usual address, to which no one listened. People chatted, craned their 
necks to see the arrival of new groups. The police army came, their riders to the 
fore, and was applauded. A cart with some kind of agricultural rig-out as in a 
carnival procession . . . People stood around, chatted, the loudspeakers didn't 
stop, but no one listened. At about 12: 'The rally is concluded.' The market 
emptied very quickly. [. . .] 

[Klemperer notes with satisfaction a growing number of students at his Leipzig 
classes . . . Has a meeting with Werner Krauss, the first for some time:] Much 
knowledge, an astonishing amount of knowledge and much bitter arrogance in 
Krauss. At the same time hardly concealed ambition. I would like to know what 
he really thinks of me. [. . .] 

[...] 


286 


The Lesser Evil 


17th May , Tuesday towards evening 

Everything in an utter rush. 

On the morning of Wed. 11 May at last elected 1st chairman [of the Kul- 
turbund in Saxony- Anhalt], after Hopp resigned out of consideration for his 
private profession. Everything settled in friendly fashion [...]. 

I already appeared as 1st regional chairman in the group photograph in the 
Freiheit the following day [...], my article on Intelligentsia and People's Congress, 
which had just been published in the Tagliche Rundschau in Berlin, was printed 
with the picture. 12 
[...) 


20th May , Friday forenoon 

[...] 

[There is no let-up in the engagements Klemperer has taken on:] The evening 
before last, Goethe at Zwickau Kulturbund, back the same night, did lecture for 
Thurs. (Montaigne, Descartes), to bed after 4, yesterday the two two-hour 
sessions at the Gewifa, GSS car to Halle, in the evening Barbusse lecture in the 
new GSS house [. . .] tomorrow . . . etc. etc. It is beyond my powers. 

[..J 

[On 15 May the Klemperers cast their votes for the People's Congress. VK 
notes activities in opposition to the election and concludes:] A third voted no 
[to the unified party lists]. 13 Inwardly I am completely without hope, as far as 
German democracy is concerned. 

On Mon. the 16th, our xth wedding anniversary, I was then busy working up 
and giving my main lecture and children's seminar (Renan. 14 - The Taine text 
from my Modern Prose) - my feelings about 1 6 May subdued by the feeling of 
being close to the end. 

[...] 

Then today, while I was sitting over these notes this afternoon and nodding 
off, news by telephone of Vossler's death. Already on the wireless yesterday, said 
the university - so he must have died the day before yesterday, 18 May. On the 
surface the obvious: I would have liked so much to go there, partly out of 
vanitas [...]. On the other hand: I would have had to drop many things here 
[...]. Now the delay with the interzonal pass has made it all irrelevant . . . Below 
the surface: my world is fading away. I was so closely connected to Vossler. Next 
to Eva he was the strongest influence on me. 

A whole number of my plans have been destroyed in the last few days. 1) 
Teubner has finally rejected my 'Humanism' [periodical proposal]; Lange does 
not appear to be willing to take over the essay for the Paedagogik. Teubner is 
also hesitating over the edition of the Poetry. [They say] they have to be cautious 
with publication of earlier books, and so far there had been no reply to Hermlin's 
attack. Uhse 15 writes, he does not want any polemics against 'our friend Hermlin' 
in the Aufbau periodical, I should respond in the Tagliche Rundschaul Nor could 
anything be said yet about the date of publication of my Surrealism article . . . 


May 1949 


287 


Sole comfort: Mayer wants to arrange a conversation on the topic for the Leipzig 
broadcasting station. [...]. 


24th May , midday Tuesday 

Extreme tiredness, at the moment also of alcoholic origin. Yesterday from lecture 
and seminar to the new house of the GSS, where I spoke on Barbusse last 
Thursday Reception in honour of Andre Simone, whose The Fall of the 3rd 
Republic I own and leafed through a few months ago. 16 Czech, probably not 
Jewish, more blonde Czech type, greying, about 50, elegant, German his mother 
tongue, cosmopolitan journalist, now professor at the Academy of Journalism 
in Prague. He wrote the Fall of the Republic in English. [. . .] 

Vossler haunts me. With his slouch hat and his floppy moustache, with the 
feline suppleness of his fencer's figure and posture, half brigand, half Renaissance 
cavalier, with his chivalresque theatrical manner at the lectern, one hand 
akimbo [...]. And then with a short greying moustache, grown older, but still 
the mature height of elegant virility in 1928, when he became my honorary 
doctor in Dresden. And then, an old gentleman, tiring easily, not hearing very 
well any more, but still very sympathetic, still unbroken in 1945 in Munich 
[...]. And then in 1946, during the VVN meeting, very old, softer, almost tender 
and clinging; the way he accompanied me down to the car wearing his slippers, 
down the stairs and the few steps around the Maximilianeum (and Frau Vossler 
whispered to me: 'Just let him - he likes doing it!') It was evidently a real walk 
for him, a link to a world that was receding. And then in the last letter with the 
very shaky signature: I cannot go down the stairs any more, I am too weak . . . 
In V. I have seen the finest bloom of manhood and its transience. His figure fills 
my life. Where is HE now, is he playing with our back tomcat Nickelchen? 


26th May , Thursday. Ascension 

[...] 

After the research assistantship meeting [the previous day] I spoke to Vahlen, 
regretting that I had not managed to go to Munich. He: I should go nevertheless, 
take the diploma to Vossler's widow - on behalf of the government and the 
university! That was agreed immediately, and now I am to undertake this 
journey after all. I am thrust ever more deeply into politics. The right path?? 
[...] 


29th May ; early Sunday. Friedenau, Berlin , at Judith Kwiet's, 30 
Offenbacherstr. 

Most significant is the pervasive feeling of being abroad, in a hostile, absolutely 
different world - and that a couple of streets away from my familiar Berlin. The 
money, you can't pay for the tram, the goods in the shop window. People's 
calculations - 2M for the cinema, and for you it's eight - and their thinking, 


288 


The Lesser Evil 


their thinking! And on top of that all the time the airlift, all the time, at intervals 
of a few minutes. Day and night, despite the 'lifting' of the blockade. 17 

[To his ageing female cousins, the Frankes, with their hostility to the Russians 
. . .] And worse than that: Whatever I say - disbelieving, superior, pitying smiles, 
pity for the whim of a befogged mind (whereby it is left open, and is a 
matter of indifference, whether I am so senile or so eccentrically innocent and 
enraptured as to believe all this, always and ineradicably these pitying smiles, 
whenever anything pro-Russian is said . . .) Thus with the Frankes, quite openly: 
we do not believe what you are saying, we know it is different. With Judith one 
degree better: they're both lying, but on many counts the West is in the right, 
the Soviet Union in the wrong. 

[...] 

French film somewhere in Schoneberg: Les Maudits , 18 In April 1945 Nazis flee 
to South America on a U-boat. A French doctor, whom they have brought on 
board by force, narrates. Crude thriller plot full of brutality and glorification of 
the grand criminel, in our uncivilised Russian zone it would be banned. [. . .] 
Before that the newsreel: American-English generals, the English foreign min- 
ister, Mr Bevin, reception at a Berlin airfield, signature in London of some 
agreement to protect Europe etc. 19 The other world. And it has its effect. I 
become uncertain, I feel isolated, in the minor state of East Germany, so many 
of whose inhabitants are disloyal. And I feel the isolation of Russia. Not until I 
return to my East patria - 10 minutes from here! - does it really hit me again, 
how many millions are in the People's Democracy. But from the point of view 
of the West these millions are the mob, the inferior races etc. 

Hans Kwiet, the Reinhardt 20 pupil: all the good artists are leaving us, going to 
the West (10 steps away). There they get more money and better parts, they 
don't want the plays they have to do in the East. And they're not risking 
anything! If they want to return, the East will take them back immediately. 
Because it's so lacking in artists! In every way, therefore, the Soviet Zone 
disregarded, in a wretched state, enslaved. One sees, hears and reads nothing 
else. How should hundreds of thousands of people withstand that? On the train 
recently I heard: I want to have enough to eat, I don't care about anything else! 
[...] 


30th May , early Monday , at Judith's 

[. . .] The morning very dreary [at the 3rd German People's Congress]. All in the 
most familiar way. 21 The three papers identical to one another and each one 
precisely what one knows from 100,000 lead articles and has said 100x oneself. 


31st May, Tuesday forenoon. Halle 

M 

I did not go back into the oven of the State Opera [where the Congress was 
being held], sat on a step in the vestibule, heard parts of Grotewohl's speech, 


June 1949 


289 


the only one with content (against the Bonn statute), walked around, made 
conversation, shook hands with x people. Profoundly disgusted by this congress, 
by politics altogether. Forever the same mush of phrases, not a single new 
thought. And full of lies, which everyone knows to be lies. [. . .] 

And then related to that the farce of the election to the Volksrat [People's 
Council]. You are given a paper (almost a brochure) with some hundreds of 
names, divided up according to parties, organisations, 'individual personalities', 
and drop this torche-cul 22 in the 'urn'. I did not bother. Who put forward this 
list? The Kulturbund has ten names, among them people who are nothing to 
do with the KB. The 'personalities': indefinable mixture, all over the place. The 
Saxony-Anhalt regional leadership is missing, no Hopp, no Klemperer. I roused 
Hopp, we challenged Gysi and Abusch. No one is responsible. At the last 
moment a Party committee turned everything upside down with its horse 
trading. The 'expanded National Front', the NDP, the KB - whispered Abusch - 
must not have too much SED, and must give prominence to 'technical intel- 
ligentsia'. [. . .] 

[After a bit more horse trading] It is almost certain, that I shall go to the 
Volksrat, but I am no longer pleased about it. The whole thing is hopeless. [. . .] 
A tragedy. We should give up all hope of an amicable union [of East and West], 
aim for a dictatorship in the East. We - and I should give up politics and work 
on literary history. But I do the opposite. 

Contributing to my most profound depression: the affliction of my skin 
complaint. Judith had arranged a consultation with Lohe for me [...]. Derma- 
tology Clinic at the Charite. Ice-grey man, who plays the Berlin lout with such 
a degree of exaggeration, that one recognises it as an act and is not offended. 
An ointment as topical treatment: 'I cannot say what you have, I don't know. 
You must stay in bed in my clinic for a couple of days. I cannot give you any 
worse treatment than the worst manual worker . . .' [. . .] What now? I am 
repelled by the idea of lying in bed in such a hospital, nor do I have any 
confidence in it. On the other hand . . . The Charite is a garden suburb amidst 
ruins. [. . .] 

[Difficulties with Aufbau because Klemperer's conception - in a foreword - of 
the 'Rococo' as a 'trait eternel' does not] fit with the pure doctrine of Marxism, 
not with the sociological tendency of the literary history aesthetics desired 
now . . . 


4th ]une, Saturday 

[. . .] Hoffmeister and I dealt with Kulturbund business [at the KB office]. Delegate 
meeting on Friday. The requested 'comment' on the 'National Front ', 23 on the 
explicit drawing in of Nazis of good will. I consider it a foolish policy. Imitation 
of the NEP 24 - but the West, too, knows that we are copying and no one believes 
us. Then the Bolsheviks were strong enough to digest the augmentation for the 
right, the augmentation from the right will eat us up. We issued a declaration 


290 


The Lesser Evil 


of approval to the press, which became a 'resolution' the next day: the KB had 
always striven to be 'above party' ... [. . .] 

At last, yesterday, Friday, the long outstanding delegates' meeting in the 
splendid music room of the GSS. At first it looked as if we were not going to 
get a quorum. Gradually 15 persons entitled to vote trickled in, and that was 
enough. They have therefore democratically - what a farce! - confirmed me as 
1st regional chairman [of the Kulturbund] and as representative in the Volksrat. 
[...] 

[...] 


7th June, Tuesday evening 

[..J 

Now I am supposed to set out for Munich tomorrow, have already sent 
telegrams to three offices [. . .] and still do not have a pass. Also, no one, not 
the Reichsbahn, not the travel agency, knows when the express train from 
Plauen/Olsnitz leaves for Munich. (...) I'm in the dark about everything, 
although KB, university and, especially, Edelberg of the SMA have made great 
efforts on my behalf. I have not yet informed Frau Vossler, who wrote truly 
touchingly to me and has invited me; I first want to see how the political plan 
develops. (...) I do not feel well physically; I fear this long journey, which is 
more difficult than a Nile expedition. [. . .] 


8th-13th June, Monday-Wednesday. Munich Trip 

[. . .] perhaps [. . .] important for the Curriculum is the moment of loneliness in 
Gutenfiirst on the afternoon of 8 June, as I stood on the 500-metre no-man's- 
land strip of the autobahn on the far side of the Soviet barrier, without money, 
feeling completely uncertain and empty with Eva waving to me from the other 
side. I was as if on an emigrant ship, already abroad and helpless. I have never 
before felt so ALIEN. (And how powerful the feeling of homecoming when on 
the 13th I crossed in the other direction and found the KB car and E. walking 
back and forward in front of it.) Then a stranger, to whom I spoke, took me to 
Hof in his car. En route it turned out that the man was thoroughly anti-Russian, 
anti-Communist - very awkward for me. He set me down, very politely, but on 
the outskirts of Hof nevertheless - it was only 10 minutes to the railway station 
and he had business here. For him it would have been 5 minutes, for me it was 
an exhausting half-hour walk with my little suitcase. At the station I had to pay 
two hundred East Marks for 30WM: usual black-market dealing by the waiters, 
[but] evidently a quite official and not at all excessive price. [. . .] In the waiting 
room I sat for a long time over a very scanty supper (afraid I would not manage 
with my money!). Then an express train to Munich (which no one in Halle, no 
office either, had known anything at all about!), taking from about midnight 
to near 6 a.m. Astonishing - just as in peacetime. The lighting, the complete 
emptiness - one could stretch out on the seats in every compartment, the 
cleanliness, the suspension of the carriages, the regularly swift and gentle 


July 1949 


291 


pounding of the rail joints ... In this respect the West is wealthier. Then early 
in the morning in Munich the cafe-restaurant next to the station [. . .] with its 
abundance of cakes, real coffee etc. That was of course very seductive, that is 
the seduction of the West. In the Curriculum I would like to call it ' the sweet lie ' 
... A long early-morning walk through the town to the River Isar. It seemed 
more tidied up in some places than the last time but on the whole little changed. 
A city of ruins with a vigorous life. Many goods in the shop windows. 

[...] 

[...]. First of all I sought out the Party and felt secure. Above all: from then 
on I had a car permanently at my disposal. With good Georg Kellner as driver, 
who, hungry for knowledge, soon displayed an almost infatuated admiration, 
his highest praise was: 'You are a professor and speak like a proletarian!' [. . .] 
The drivers. They see themselves as the charioteers of their heroes. [. . .] 

When I arrived at Emma Vossler's there was a room ready for me in the 
immense Maximilianeum apartment, and an elderly (Moliere-like) faithful maid 
took care of everything. [. . .] 

In my memory it is as if I had lived with Frau V. for days - yet in fact I passed 
only two nights there, one night with the Neumanns in Pasing and one [. . .] 
with Kellner, my driver [...]. The big rooms in the Maximilianeum, Vossler's 
study, Frau V. had placed his picture on the stove, she laid the diploma down 
in front of it. Odd mixture of moods: she was certainly most deeply affected by 
his death, which must nevertheless have been a release for him and for her as 
well and which was expected, indeed also probably longed for - by him and by 
her. At the same time, however, she also felt proud as his widow, as guardian of 
his fame [. . .] revelled a little in the many honours which he was paid, answered 
letters of condolence with dignity and not quite without a touch of pleasure in 
the situation. [. . .] Her rancour against his political opponents, against the 
people who now want to take the apartment from her, who award her an 
ungenerous retirement pension, brought her closer to the East, to me. [. . .] 
[Klemperer gives thumbnail sketches of a couple of the Munich KPD officials.] 
No less highly regarded by the Party, and a member of the Bavarian regional 
leadership, is Arno Haucke, one of the heads of their culture section, with whom 
I drove to Nurnberg. He was in the army, is uneducated, talks about the 
cowardice and lack of cleanliness of the Jewish soldiers, makes derogatory 
remarks about the Jew Mode [. . .] and is a member of the Communist Party. 
Admittedly the eastern Jews appear to play the most unsavoury role in Munich. 
One is said to be able to get 'everything' in Mohlstr. [. . .] 

The Party offices in the West (I had the same experience in Mainz) exist in an 
atmosphere of illegality, conspiracy, in a constant state of alert. 

[...] 


2nd July, Saturday evening 

[Klemperer again expresses his scepticism, indeed fear of the 'dreadful National 
Front - see above p. 289]. 

The West connection. The results for me thus far: 1) the [. . .] Munich trip, 


292 


The Lesser Evil 


with press sequel and my article for the Tat : 'Expedition to Bavaria'. 25 And 
yesterday the anonymously posted newspaper cutting 'Salon Bolshevism' with 
my picture and written on it in ink: 'You should be ashamed of yourself, if you 
have any sense of shame left at all.' [. . .] 


2nd-4th July. The Zonal Congress of the Society 

[. . .] Kuczynski 26 announces: from now on [the name will be] 'Gesellschaft 
fur deutsch-sowjetische Freundschaft' - Society for German-Soviet Friendship. 
Unpleasant the feeling of squandered time - 1 sit and stand pointlessly around. 
[. . .] Even more than before on this second day in Berlin the feeling of absolute 
futility and waste of time. No one bothered about me. The drawing up of the 
zonal committee was a farce: sixty-one names, among them male and female 
workers, a big piece of window dressing, half a dozen people give the orders. I, 
too, am among the 61. [. . .] 

. . . Effective speech by a woman doctor from the West. Anyone coming from 
the West is always greatly acclaimed. - The new customs: We stand up and 
applaud. The person applauded claps along! At the end - LQI<SU - Tong live 
peace, long live . . .' The rent of the State Opera cost the society 100,000M. The 
society is too rich, that tempts it into making mistakes, into ostentation and 
trumping the Kulturbund, even though it absolutely needs the latter. [. . .] 


13th July , 6.30 Wednesday morning 

What good is the hope of catching up? The piece of paper with catchwords is 
getting ever longer, the proper diary quality inevitably evaporates . . . My sleep 
becomes ever less, the mass of work and what is left undone ever greater. [. . .] 


17th July , Sunday 

The chaos on my desk, among my books, is indescribable, the scantiness of my 
sleeping time likewise. What is unsettling me is the National Prize. Erich Wendt 
says: he has to 'pour cold water' on my hopes. In this first year 'the old fellows 
had to be got out of the way', next year it would be the new people, and the 
year after that they would 'already have trouble finding candidates'. [. . .] That 
was on the day of the [KB] Executive Committee on the 13th. At the ceremony 
for the University anniversary, 12 July - the University of Halle was founded on 
12 July 1694, it is also E.'s birthday, and so I was able to avoid quite a lot - a 
proportion of the professors wore gowns again for the first time, and His 
Magnificence Winter announced the university's nominations for the Academy 
and the National Prize. I am named in both categories [. . .] My gown (dark 
violet) excessively long, heavy, too warm, the squared cap too tight and cutting 
into my forehead. Very significant in cultural historical etc. terms, that the East 
zone has recourse to such formal dress again - the Revolution appropriates 
tradition, the Soviet Union glorifies Tsarism. 


August 1949 


293 


20th July, Wednesday 

Forenoon Leipzig. Hans Mayer's inaugural lecture: Goethe and Hegel. The 
Primitive Phenomenon and the Absolute'. Qu'en ai-je su? Qu'en sais-je main- 
tenant?? Tout et rien . . , 27 [. . .] 


20th-24th July, Wednesday-Sunday. Mainz Trip 

[K. travelled to Mainz to give a lecture at the university there and to meet his 
colleague and fellow-student of Vossler, Eugen Lerch, for the first time since 
1928.] 


29th July, Friday afternoon 

[...] 

To the state of exhaustion were now added feelings of bitterness: Not included 
in the list of writers nominated for the National Prize. Werner Krauss elected to 
the Academy and - it's unbelievable: Neubert. I can tell myself a 100x: the 
National Front is to blame and other people are also disappointed: [. . .] it hurts 
most bitterly and I thought of resignation, because I can become professor 
emeritus from 9 Oct. 49. 

Under the pressure of this setback I sat at my department's frugal term party 
in the refectory dejected and resentful and, which was unfair, did not open my 
mouth. Very simple and very nice performance of Maitre Pathelin. 28 With it 
potato salad and rolls with dripping. And a student played the accordion, and 
there was dancing. [. . .] 

Gusti Weighardt is awaited - telegram from Weferlingen. 


2nd August, Tuesday morning 

When we came from Weimar yesterday - Thomas Mann - [we were] not among 
the 'select few' of the evening reception, 29 1 found the list of prize winners in 
the Tdgliche Rundschau. Not /, and again Krauss. Fatal blow for me. Its most fatal 
effect: neither Teubner nor anyone else will ever print my 18ieme, nor can there 
be any question of a new edition of my Literary History. Weise has left Teubner, 
Marx intimidated by the business of the Modem Prose. - The little pig was so 
very puffed up; now he is not only deflated, but has finally burst. Left over is a 
wee journalist. To have died a little earlier would have been no bad thing. 


2nd August-24th August. Holiday weeks in Dolzschen in our own 
house 


5th August, Friday 

[...] 

On 2 Aug., Kreuzig drove us here, arriving in the late afternoon. Much work 


294 


The Lesser Evil 


for E. packing; I complained and scolded because of all the baggage. It was 
stowed away. The tomcat also. Very hot but good drive. [. . .] In Dolzschen, the 
plot very overgrown, green wilderness, otherwise in tolerable condition. A few 
weeks ago Schottlander was in part 'dismissed without notice', in part bolted - 
subsequently the police were after him. [. . .] 

[On Wednesday, the 3rd] to the Neustadt, Timeusstr., to Gusti Wieghardt. She 
telegraphed recently from Weferlingen, wanted to come to us, was fetched to 
Herbert Gute in Berlin, telegraphed her address here ... We met, embraced; I 
helped her as guarantor at the Victims of Fascism office and at the police, we 
drove to our house, long get-together, Lotte also turned up. [. . .] Emotional 
reunion. She is little changed, does not look her 62 years, her hair has remained 
almost black - except she hisses a little, her teeth must be poorly made. Karl W. 
[her son] is working in London at the moment, for the Royal Navy, literally for 
the enemy, therefore. He still teaches aero-dynamics at Gottingen. [. . .] She will 
take charge of broadcasts for young people and children here, the Sachsenverlag 
is publishing a German edition of Sally , also of Jan auf der Zille [Jan on the Barge] 
[...]. We talked about 100 things at once - everywhere the dead on the way. 
She speaks with warm affection of the English as individuals. Her various posts 
as cook appear essentially to have been gentleman-cook positions on the basis 
of friendly relations and recommendations. She lived through the air attacks 
on London, VI and V2 and did fire-protection duty. 


Weimar. Freeman Thomas Mann 

I feel sure no one will report the most characteristic moment. On account of the 
'National Front'. Thomas Mann in the introduction to his altogether passable 
speech, in fact given 3x 30 and afterwards distributed in printed form, said: 

. . insofar as here in Weimar one can speak of "East" at all'. Immediately 
demonstrative applause, even if probably not by the whole of the packed house. 
Mann may be innocent, he presumably wanted to say: we here are simply 
Germany! but the applause said: we here are West Europeans! I looked at Eva, 
we were both aghast. [. . .] This meek pleasure: Mann has come to us, too! He 
was escorted from Gutenfiirst [the border crossing] like a ruler. The Kulturbund 
was the most arse-licking. [. . .then] Becher spoke, beginning each sentence with 
'You, Thomas Mann', finally apostrophising him 'Dear Beloved' - a hymn of 
conventional phrases. Then came Mann. The audience gave him a long and 
thunderous standing ovation. Good-looking for his 70 or so years of age. Like 
a clean-shaven American dollar man. Very prominent cheekbones, reddish- 
brown skin, deep-set little eyes, powerful nose, blackish hair, thin, medium 
height. On a table next to the lectern lay 2 folders, one the document bestowing 
freedom of the city, the other presumably the Golden Visitors' Book. The mayor 
addressed him, Mann stood self-confidently. After that read out his speech, 
speaking only the introductory words, including the ominous sentence, off the 
cuff. [. . .] 


August 1949 


295 


8th August , Monday after dinner 

First we shivered at night, now great heat. Changing mood. Should I resign? 
Will they let me go? - The bitterness of the affront. - I try to manage a little 
reading, a few notes in these vacation days, to sit alone as much as possible in 
our green wilderness. 

[...] 

Constant tiredness, forenoon: fall asleep. Senility. 

E. full of plans to renovate and extend; I believe: in her element. Advantages 
and disadvantages of being here, quite apart from the financial side, constantly 
go through my mind. Will I be able bear the peace? Will I have peace? 

Visitors all the time. Lotte was here twice so far. She finds the hill difficult. 
Gusti was up here twice. She is full of activity. The Heinschs came on their 
motorcycle with a comical delivery box next to the vehicle itself. He told us of 
Schottlander's last days. One had to admire the stubborn way he stood up for 
his convictions, it had been wrong to make a martyr of him by sudden dismissal, 
he could have been checkmated with less fuss. [. . .] 


9th August 

[...] 

Gunther Schmidt here. He makes me anxious. Went from Jena, where he was 
threatened with arrest, because he refused to inform on West-oriented fellow- 
students for the Russians, to the Tree University' [in West Berlin]. I warned him 
against a stay in Dolzschen - / would not betray him. He jeopardises me. And 
his fate also makes me waver in my attitude. No doubt, the Russians are acting 
in self-defence and have greater legitimacy on their side. But the individual case 
is grievous and not the only one. Where is freedom and where complete purity? 
[. . .] I am so tired of the university. If the scholars - Frings, Wartburg, Stroux - 
reject me, call me a 'newspaper writer', why should I not be a newspaper writer 
in the end? Why not take possession of my special place 'between stools'. 

Oppressive heat, semi-thunderstorm. 


11th August, Thursday 

The day before yesterday towards evening: Gusti. With her driver - that's our 
style now [...]. Gusti delighted with her post at the Dresden broadcasting 
station. That is, like on a local rag. So many people here modestly delighted 
with subaltern positions: they are leading lights on a local scale, on a county 
scale etc. etc. Why am I dissatisfied? Would fame be any greater if it extended 
to the 'zonal scale'? And yet the deep dissatisfaction. All the deeper, for knowing 
that I really am only a newspaper writer. 

[...] 


296 


The Lesser Evil 


14th August, Sunday 

The hot period is long past. [. . .] I go out as little as possible, catch up on the 
diary, read Ehrenburg. 31 Every day is full of visitors. All the neighbours, everyone 
gossips . . . Gusti. She brought the comrades Elsa Froehlich and Erna Rentzsch. 
All these local leading lights and functionaries. The SED bearers of culture with 
their deficient education. With their Party slogans and their incorrect German. 
With their - my coinage [...]- their 'asparagus-tip knowledge'. They know the 
asparagus tips of Marxism. Being determines consciousness, quantity turns to 
quality (very popular lately) etc. . . . Inwardly Gusti has not changed. Also 
outwardly very little, despite her 62 years. T am very much against you having 
included a Gobineau 32 text [in the Modem French Prose], our students do not 
need to know that.' 

My inner insecurity and depression do not change. In my life two phrases 
have always alternated, the one in which I looked forward to going to sleep, 
the other in which I looked forward to waking up. At the moment I feel happiest 
when I go to sleep. I am very tired, and I am tired of things, and I am sceptical 
of a great deal regarding the SED and the SU. I tell myself again and again: my 
time is past. - E. revels in building plans. 


17th August, Wednesday 

[...] 

Invitation to the Weimar ceremonies (awarding of the National Prizes by 
Stroux etc. 33 ) opens the wound once again. - In town yesterday - to the 
accompaniment of bad memento pains. A summons to police headquarters. 
I thought: concerning Schottlander. Instead: 'what is your opinion of Lang, 
the charge hand of the Jews at Bauer?' The whole situation of those days 
was immediately brought back to me. The question was asked by a very 
young, very likeably circumspect woman police officer and comrade. 'He has 
an important director's post, we're keeping a close eye on him.' I: he has a 
bad character [...], guardedly courteous towards me, harsh towards those 
socially beneath him . . , 34 on the other hand: Caution with accusations against 
wearers of the star! It was doubtful whether Lang was guilty of any crime, 
'Gestapo collaborator' is an unpleasant phrase. The young woman said, my 
reflections tallied with everything they had heard so far, but 'a close eye had to 
be kept on him'. Naturally we also talked about Neumark. Everyone had made 
statements in his favour, but the Russians are supposed to have relied on 
documents in Berlin which told against him. His fate unknown, 35 likewise that 
of his family. 

[...] 


24th August, Wednesday morning 

[. . .] Today the Kulturbund car is supposed to take us to Halle. 

Now what was the content and achievement of these last weeks? 

The constant desperate and fruitless discussion of the pros and cons of retiring 


September 1949 


297 


and moving. It is certain that E. inclines towards here. She is once again deep 
in building plans. Furthermore the house must be renovated in spring, if it is 
not to fall into disrepair. [. . .] 

I read Ehrenburg [...]. Took very few notes. I leafed through Les grands 
cimetieres sous la lune by Bernanos, of which I understood very little [...]. 


25th August 1949 , Thursday evening. Halle 

When I turned on the wireless in the afternoon, the prize winners were just 
being announced. Werner Krauss, Member of the Academy, because he has 
given literary history a fundamental sociological orientation. - It is very bitter - 
I have been defeated by the hostility of Leipzig: Frings, Wartburg. 


30th August , Tuesday forenoon. Halle 
Yesterday Kulturbund committee meeting. [. . .] 

At this meeting I gave Agricola my resignation request. 36 He was 'shocked'. 


2nd September , Friday 

[On Wednesday, 31 August, Klemperer attends the ceremony to welcome back 
the participants in the 2nd World Youth and Student Games in Budapest. 37 ] 
After the song ['Youth of all Nations'], which presumably comes from the SU, 
and which I probably first heard at a Russian concert here, frequently after that, 
the ceremony appears to be over. But now music: fanfares and kettledrums from 
the hall doors and to the accompaniment of these strains the parade of flags. 
Of the music at the entrance to the hall I see the pale drumsticks rhythmically 
and repeatedly swung into the air and crossed. This movement, these crossed 
drumsticks in particular, does nothing but revive for me the image of the Nazi 
years. Hitler Youth and flags and march and anthem: certainly the Nazis stole 
it from the Bolsheviks. But the reminiscence of the Nazis remains more than 
unpleasant nevertheless. And the fundamental similarity of the totalitarian 
remains, les extremes se touchent. 38 

[...] 

[Klemperer and his wife see the Polish film The Last Stage 39 , an ' unbearable 
. . . magnificent indictment of Auschwitz'.] The film is a great work of art, 
but it will fail in its purpose. The malicious will say: An anti -Jew Suss, and 
just like the Nazi few Suss 40 mendacious and made to order. The mass in the 
middle will say: It may have been bad, but as bad as that - we don't believe 
it, that's impossible. And then: We want to forget it, we the innocent. And 
the truly well-meaning will simply be unable to bear it, it will weigh too 
terribly on their souls. All the solemn words which were spoken before and 
after will be of no use: this film will not be endured. Too much boundless 
bestiality is laid bare, and it is not universally Fascist, but specifically German, 


298 


The Lesser Evil 


specifically Nazi. Nothing but Use Kochs 41 and Heinrich Himmlers, proud 
and rational beasts. [. . .] 


6th September , Tuesday morning 

[...] 

On LQI: TO LIBERATE. No one conquers any more, everyone 'liberates': the 
armies of the 'people's democracies' do it, the partisans did it [. . .] the West 
wants a crusade in order to liberate the Balkans, a crusade for Christendom, for 
Europe, for Atlantic culture. 

[...] 

9th September , Friday forenoon and later 

Every most minor and every most important thing poses the question 100x a 
day: Halle or Dresden? And the answer always stands 50:50. 

[...] 

[Another Berlin trip: Calls on publishers in relation to translation work for 
Eva Klemperer.] Then to the Volk and Wissen publishing house. It was very 
important for me to talk to I. M. Lange, because the evening at home revealed 
the whole calamity of the Modem French Poetry and Teubner's fear. First I was 
too red for them, now I am too pink and bourgeois. The Hermlin condemnation 
remained unanswered, then behind my back they asked Th. Liicke for an expert 
opinion, he finds the book 'dangerous', now they want a discussion between 
the company, Liicke, I. M. Lange and myself to debourgeoisify the book! - How 
fortunate that yesterday I confirmed my shared interests with Lange. The three 
of us drank coffee in his room, on the 14th (KB executive meeting) he will drive 
here with us and stay the night. At stake is his doctorate, and my affair. For the 
time being I have swallowed my anger and not replied to Teubner. Then the 
Biichergilde Gutenberg [a book club]. [Here the Klemperers and the publisher 
agree on a translation (by Eva Klemperer, introduced by Victor Klemperer) of 
master novellas by Maupassant. Eva Kl. has fallen out with the Volk and Welt 
publishing house over her translation of Aragon . . .] 

[...] 


16th September , 2 p.rn. Friday 

[...] 

On Wednesday the KB executive meeting. The usual journey - with E. and 
Hoffmeister. Small group. About the National Prizes, about the federal con- 
ference, which is now at last supposed to take place and which is always 
postponed. They want people from the West present, want to make a dem- 
onstration. Abusch promised I would get the next free place in the Volksrat 
[People's Council]. [. . .] I complained that our drivers were badly fed and got 
the reply from Becher, that 'levelling' was out of place. [. . .] [I. M. Lange returns 


September 1949 


299 


to Halle with the Klemperers, reads through the Modern French Poetry.] [. . .] 
and then yesterday morning discussed everything over an endless breakfast. 
The business left a deep feeling of embitterment in me. Certainly, IM will speak 
up for me (he knows why) [. . .] but he says Liicke is 99.99% right; my book is 
'dangerous' - I should revise, accentuate, cut etc. etc. when I get the proofs. 
[. . .] Awkward also is IM's desire for a Ph.D. For what? The Party can make him 
a professor without further ado, but for what should the faculty award him the 
regular degree of doctor (not, for example, a Dr h.c.) if he can present nothing 
of consequence? He imagines it's as easy as pie. [. . .] And so on. 

Evening 

[. . .] Georg was right: Steer clear of politics! I do not wish to go to the West, but 
I wish I could live somewhere infinitely far away from Germany. 

Frau Ubben, very upset, weeping, came here in the car that drove me. 
Hoffmeister, who was supposed to be back from Berlin today and telegraphed 
that he would come tomorrow has, because of some gossip, come under sus- 
picion of fleeing to the West with his wife. The gossip and what occasioned it 
is still completely confused and obscure, but that such a rumour arises imme- 
diately and is taken so very seriously is a characteristic feature of the situation. 


22nd September , Thursday evening 

The shocking Hoffmeister affair dominated the week. 

[...] 

Mon. and Tue. were then the real typhoon days. On Wed., the 14th, H. had 
driven to Berlin with E. and myself. He wanted to attend his secretariat meeting 
on Thurs., attend to some business at the Investitionsbank etc., return on Friday. 
He sent a telegram, saying that he would be here on Saturday. Immediately after 
that there were suspicious circumstances, a trades union official warned Frau 
Ubben, that, on an evidently untruthful pretext, H.'s mother-in-law had made 
a request to deposit furniture somewhere and sell it . . . We waited until Monday, 
then Frau Ubben and Kreuzig drove to Allrode. H.'s parents lived there [. . .] H. 
had for a long time been trying to obtain an interzonal pass for his father, who 
had a gall-bladder complaint and was supposed to go to Mergentheim for 
treatment. Perhaps in Berlin H. had suddenly had an opportunity to help his 
father, or he had suddenly been called to the seriously ill man . . . Result: the 
house completely empty, the neighbours said: They sold everything, are over 
the border!' [. . .] Their 'clearing out' was long premeditated, therefore. Then to 
the Party offices, Leni Berg. 42 She laughed in my face, when I talked about trust 
betrayed. There was no such thing in politics, one could be betrayed by the 
closest comrades after years of working together. She wanted me to go to zonal 
headquarters with Frau Ubben herself ... We left at 6 on Tue. morning - I was 
supposed to speak in Thale at 8 ... In Berlin no one was at all surprised, neither 
Gysi nor Willmann. H. had simply lost his nerve, he had had enough, he had 
a brother in Hanover who was on the editorial staff of a newspaper . . . and it 
happens all the time now. [. . .] 


300 


The Lesser Evil 


25th September , Sunday forenoon 

On Friday morning another little faculty meeting. [. . . Discussion of Auerbach 
as Klemperer's successor.] I should actually be glad, that they are willing to let 
me go - I also immediately spoke in favour of Auerbach, and Weyhe, the old 
English scholar said: 'he also has a very good reputation as a real philologist, 
even Wartburg praises him!' - so actually I should be glad, but I felt as if I were 
lying in my coffin, and the journalist is going to have a real scholar as his 
successor. 


2nd October , Sunday forenoon 

The essentials of recent days: 

[Klemperer notes the 'fiasco' of the 'World Day of Peace' following only a 
month after the 'German' Day of Peace.] The worn-out formulae of the func- 
tionaries no longer have any effect. Old Goebbels merchandise. [. . .] 

... For some days now [. . .] the existence of the Russian atom bomb is 
constantly being thrown onto the scales on the side of peace - a monstrous 
comedy. 

[...] 


4th October , Tuesday after dinner 

Just the thing! The Bonn West state must be opposed by an East state. On the 
other hand: 'East state' means acknowledgement of the West state, of the 
division. Which is why the SED had refused [. . .] Now yesterday the solution. 
The government and popular representation for the whole of Germany will be 
constituted in the capital of the whole of Germany, Berlin. A fiction - but it 
means action. [. . .] At all events linguistically and politically this is a turning 
point, something new. [. . .] 

Towards evening 

Call from Kirsch: News agency representative with him: at the request of 
the central government in Berlin the Kulturbund must issue an immediate 
declaration. I: [What about] The Executive Committee, the members, dem- 
ocracy! - [Reply] Time short, tomorrow crucial Volksrat session. - Who has sent 
the man? - Soviet Military Administration. I hesitate. Democracy? On the other 
hand: I am certainly in favour. I dictated over the telephone: 'The Kulturbund 
of Saxony-Anhalt also urgently demands the immediate establishment of a 
government and a popular representative body for the whole of Germany in 
the national capital of the whole of Germany, Berlin. Signed, the first regional 
chairman Victor Klemperer.' Thus did the populace spontaneously surge, that 
is democracy - thus and no differently was also how it was done in Hitler's day. 
Except that now it is the real republic that is at stake. - I'm curious to see 
whether I meet my end in bed or on the gallows. But fundamentally it's all one. 


October 1949 


301 


And I am convinced, that ultimately, ideologically and practically, I am on the 
right side. 'And practically' the conviction is not quite as solid as ideologically. 
23 million Germans at most are supposed to be living here, 40 million in the 
Western zones. Of the 23 million in the East, 10 million at the very outside are 
truly Russophile and truly Communist. 

[...] 


6th October , Thursday 

[. . .] Yet I am convinced that very few know what a declaration of war this 
'thing' [conversion of Volksrat into Volkskammer - People's Chamber - estab- 
lishment of an East German state] is. Most people are apathetic. In the West 
they'll say: Russian orders, Russian comedy. (Are they entirely in the wrong?) 


10th October, Monday evening 

[..J 

My birthday yesterday. Winter here in the morning, Rita and Robi in the 
afternoon. Vahlen the day before. People are very effusive, court me - but are 
letting me go nevertheless and thinking of Auerbach. I feel very much at the 
end of my tether. My heart, my skin complaint, my 68 years. 

[..J 


12th October, Wednesday evening 

'The German Democratic Republic' 43 . There's been nothing else on the wireless 
since yesterday. The presidential election, the parades, the speeches. I do not 
feel comfortable with it. I know how everything is fixed and how spontaneity 
and unanimity are prepared. I know that under the Nazis it sounded just the 
same and proceeded in just the same way. I know how little reality there is 
behind it. 20 million are not even a third of the German people, and of the 20 
at least 12 are anti-Soviet. I know that internally the Democratic Republic is a 
lie, the SED supports and desires a Socialist republic, it does not trust the 
middle-class parties, and the middle-class parties distrust it. At some point there 
will be civil war. I was sent a mischief-making sheet from Berlin - 'Resistance of 
the oppressed' . . . 'Copy this' . . . Remember who the traitors are ... the SED 
crimes will be punished, etc. etc. Editorial address, Zehlendorf [in Berlin]. 
Postmark Berlin. Sender Dr Rita Hetzer Halle. I telephoned Rita. She had received 
the same leaflet. Sender Prof. Bennedik. Presumably and so on. The dispatcher 
must be very well informed about the situation here and wants to confuse and 
scare us. US. I am counted one of the Russian lackeys, I have been marked 
down, I shall probably 'not die in my bed'. 


302 


The Lesser Evil 


14th October ; Friday midday 

[A Kulturbund Executive Committee meeting the previous day. Familiar incon- 
clusive debates, notes Klemperer.] [. . .] Afterwards with E. to Anny Klemperer's 
for half an hour. A very instructive half-hour. Anny repeats with bitter conviction 
what the West says; I also glanced at the Kurier. The Democratic Republic is 
'illegal', is a Russian and Communist sham and fiction - Bonn on the other 
hand is democratically elected, expresses the will of the people. And the Ameri- 
cans truly want to help us, and in America there is 'freedom'. And here people 
'disappear' into the uranium mines, and here the old people and the bereaved 
of the army, of officers in particular are starving - here the distress of her own 
relatives and friends is weighing heavily on A. - Wretched opposition of the 
two Germanies, wretched and hopeless. - E. used the day to break finally with 
the Volk und Welt publishing house (Aragon); she would rather not have any 
payment for the work done than have those people botching her work. She had 
further discussions with the Kinderbuch and Dietz publishers. The Quiroga is 
coming out, the Izcaray ditto . 44 She is very proud and fulfilled - but her heart 
problems are getting worse. During the discussion yesterday I myself had very 
ominous angina pains. [. . .] 

[. • •] 


20th October , Thursday towards evening 

The first step of my withdrawal has been taken. [. . .] I shall no longer lecture 
in Leipzig. [Nevertheless the form and occasion of the decision was not a 
happy one for Klemperer: rather opaque hostilities and intrigues.] If I had 
not felt the Leipzig affair to be defamatory and had I not been dead tired of 
the whole wretched Leipzig undertaking, I would have gone on lecturing 
even for less salary. But rebus sic stantibus , 45 I take the whole matter as a sign 
of fate. [. . .] 


28th October , 11.15 Friday evening 

[...] 

What, however, touches me more than all of this, although I do not want to 
admit it, although I again and again repress it, is, since Tuesday (or is it already 
longer ago?) the Neubert affair [...], N. has gone over to the 'Free University of 
Berlin'. It can be assumed [according to the telephone conversation], that he 
will be expelled from the Academy, that I will be admitted in his place, and his 
chair given to me. I consider it to be out of the question, want to consider it out 
of the question and am nevertheless poisoned by the thought. [. . .] 


6th November , midday Sunday 

E.'s heart attack yesterday over dinner at the Soviet Friendship Society has 
shaken me very badly. She was sitting happily beside me. Frau Behnke opposite 


November 1 949 


303 


us says: She's not well. E. has fallen back in her chair, her eyes fixed, her mouth 
is open, she gasps for air, is pale, unconscious. I feared heart failure. Behnke 
and Ludwig Einicke to her. We were sitting near the door. After a while the two 
of them took her out. She recovered in the armchair by the window. Then she 
got worse again, a choking vomiting. It had been exactly the same at the 
Revolution anniversary last year, I had taken her with me this time only with 
some considerable anxiety and inner reluctance. We then drove home, she 
slept well, is still sleeping now - but my anxiety remains, and E.'s bitterness 
remains. Always the pressure: 'How much longer?' and 'Who will be the first 
to go?' And every philosophical and now even religious consolation is lacking. 
Eva said yesterday: 'I have had an altogether interesting life/ Once I had got 
her to bed at 2, I completed - flightily and devoid of feeling - my Moliere 
essay, then put together my revolution talk for today and did not go to bed 
until 4.15. 

[Eva Klemperer collapsed at the reception to mark the 32nd anniversary of 
the October Revolution. Klemperer describes this stiff event - at the officers' 
club of the Soviet Military Administration in Halle - in some detail.] 


10th November , midday Thursday 
[•••] 

In Berlin they don't want me as Neubert's successor, I'm too old, they would 
soon have to change again. They want to make do with guest professors and 
are thinking of Auerbach for later on. They are doing that here, too. Yesterday 
a letter from Lerch: he had proposed Auerbach for Munich 2 years ago, one 
could not blame a Jew for not wanting to come. 

[...] 


15th November , Thursday forenoon 

Friday (11th) poorly attended final Kulturbund Executive Committee meeting 
of the session. Under discussion was the drawing-up of the lists for the election. 
[...] 

Abusch informed me: Russian objection, the name Barbusse must not be 
mentioned in connection with Stalin's birthday. My essay will not be printed 
[. . .] Abusch himself had to remove all references to Barbusse in his Stalin 
monograph, my Barbusse for Aufbau is naturally now also untenable. My kind 
of freedom! I. M. Lange writes with respect to my Modem French Poetry, one 
could perhaps come to an agreement . . . with Liicke . . . Now that we are 
sovereign, this thraldom will presumably get even worse. - Only: is one any more 
free in the West? The best thing would be: to work only for my desk and for 
posterity. 

[...] 

The wheel of fortune at Anny Klemperer's. I am paying Peter's tuition fees 


304 


The Lesser Evil 


(215M) and A. asks me in a letter virtually point-blank, whether I can also pay 
for the necessary books. I am received quite officially by Peter and his girlfriend, 
who absolutely counts as the illegal daughter-in-law. 

[..J 

I said to Becher: Your national anthem is splendid: 46 two strands of tradition: 
'Deutschland fiber alles' 47 and Luther chorale. Very simple verses. But the broken 
rhythm of the concluding line and the emphasis on peace is modern. - 'Yes (he 
said), it is all very cunningly done/ I was pleased, that he did not affect the 
poet, but acknowledged the craft. [. . .] 

Towards evening on Saturday I had Rita Hetzer here. Her research assistantship 
and post-doctoral degree programme. Dependent on me and my staying. I 
myself am making my staying dependent on a place in the Academy. She set 
out her work schedule. The habilitation thesis is to be 'George Sand'. 48 

[..•] 


23rd-27th November, Wednesday to Sunday. Congress. The Berlin 
days 

[The Second Federal Congress of the Kulturbund . . . On the Wednesday evening 
Klemperer takes part in a confidential meeting - 'only a few reliable comrades' - 
to fix who will get on the lists for election to the committee. Half these decisions 
are later overturned.] I then drove to I. M. Lange and we discussed all my 
business. Marx from Teubner had called on him - all my Teubner things are to 
go to Riemerschmidt [Rfitten & Loening publishing house]. [. . .] 

[...] 


10th December, Saturday forenoon. Halle [. . .] 

[. . .] Accumulated correspondence: Emma Vossler. Otto Klemperer London. 
He would like to see East Germany for himself and asks whether he will have 
any 'difficulties'. Evidently - and he even says so - he has no idea of our 
circumstances. He mentions the ' iron curtain '. 


16th December, Friday night 

E.'s state of health is not good and is worsened by being tied to the house so 
much by the foggy weather. [. . .] Her depression affects me, and I already feel 
bad enough anyway: this terrible inability to produce and the bitterness of 
having come to the end. [. . .] 

A letter from Berthold Meyerhof, touching and tormenting. He sends us a 
package and writes us an article [as if] from an encyclopaedia about a stretch of 
land he had got to know. What else should he write to us. He views the world 
in which we live with complete incomprehension and hostility, we no longer 
have any common ideas, interests. We are so utterly isolated, the people of our 


December 1949 


305 


world are dead or for us intellectually dead. Schernert, Annemarief, a few 
Meyerhofs still alive, but no longer for us. And where is Sebba, where is Frau 
Schaps? etc, etc. And sometimes the most tormenting thought of all: What am 
I still to E., and how far does she share my thoughts? I am often so tired now, 
physically and mentally. I have a horror of the nothingness and nevertheless 
wish everything were over. I try to persuade myself to believe in the Soviet 
cause, but in my heart of hearts I don't believe in anything and everything 
appears to me equally trivial and equally false. The ghastly similarity to Nazi 
methods in the propaganda for the Soviet Friendship Society, in the hullabaloo 
around Stalin's birthday cannot be denied. 


22nd December , Thursday afternoon to 23rd December, Friday 
afternoon 

Drawing breath in a state of complete exhaustion. In good humour incidentally. 
I do have some effect after all, and an atom of me will remain after all. Even if 
I do not get to Berlin and into the Academy, even if I no longer receive the 
National Prize, which is becoming like the Iron Cross, Second Class. Why this 
momentary peak? Because I had a speaking success yesterday, and because my 
LTI and my and E.'s Cassou 49 are in the newly opened works library of Agfa 
Wolfen. [. . .] 

[...] 

Mond. aft. unprepared to the Descartes seminar; afterwards the dreaded 
Romance Languages and Literatures Department Christmas party. [. . .] 

On Tue. to Berlin for the Soviet Friendship Society's Stalin celebration. [. . . 
Commenting on the cancellation of a visit by the new President of the GDR, 
Wilhelm Pieck, to the Soviet Union, Klemperer comments:] / found the 
announcement of the visit somewhat servile. Perhaps Moscow said to itself: 
Stalin would have to return this visit and things haven't got to that point yet. 
(But when I said that to Steinitz, he said: why shouldn't Pieck travel to Moscow, 
if Mao Tse (or whatever the new Chinaman is called) does? [But] He represents 
a greater power than Pieck after all. Curious: this treatment of China and 
Germany as equals moved me; the old estimations of worth are very deep 
seated, and in this case are also intellectually justified. We, the piccolo mondo 
antico, 50 we after all founded culture, we white people from Palestine and 
Europe. [. . .] I sat beside Steinitz and talked a great deal with him. The Berlin 
chair: Auerbach - if he does not come, Krauss or I. But, and this was the 
unpleasant new note: 'Our comrades, too, are only lukewarm in their support 
of you, you must have done something in Greifswald.' So because of that! Franz 
Wohlgemuth . . . Furthermore they are only going to appoint guest pro- 
fessorships for the time being. [. . .] On Monday it was long past 2 by the time I 
got to bed. [On Tuesday] I was again very late, and the Wednesday, Stalin's 70th 
birthday, was a great strain. 

[...] 

The Thiiringer Volksverlag [publisher] at last sent the Rameau with my Diderot 


306 


The Lesser Evil 


sketch. 51 Reading it over cheered me up: whether they fetch me to Berlin or 
not, I know what I am capable of and what will remain of me. 


26th December, Monday evening 

[Klemperer is exhausted by giving talks on German and Soviet peace policies.] 
After that, serious work on the Maupassant. In an express letter Victor 52 presses 
us to deliver by 4 Jan. - and after all 20,000M is involved. Thus the struggle to 
complete this study [i.e. the foreword] fills the Christmas days. - In the evening 
we had the goose, we put up the two pictures, instead of a tree we had a little 
wreath, in which E. had placed brightly coloured baubles, as if in an Easter egg 
nest, and on which she had mounted candles. The evening passed tolerably - 
what more can one ask of such an obligatory festive evening? [. . .] 


31st December, midnight precisely, Saturday 

Our New Year's Eve: All day long (and already yesterday) E.'s terribly tormenting 
coughing as she ceaselessly took down my dictation: the Maupassant study, 
become much too long and heavy for its popular purpose, has to be delivered 
in quadruplicate; I have spent the whole of these holidays struggling to finish 
it. [...] 

1949 saw the Goethe rumpus, which was given a political twist; for 1950 
there has been likewise heralded, for the last few days in the newspaper, just 
now most solemnly on the Leipzig broadcasting station, the Bach rumpus. 53 For 
a united German culture. [. . .] 

Eva, quite apart from her cough at the moment, is very sickly, the coronary 
dilation troubles her every day - and I am repeatedly in pain while walking and 
climbing stairs. How much longer? And who will be first? And then nothing. 

And while I should be indifferent to everything, I was nevertheless tormented 
by the defeats of this past year: the failure to get the National Prize, to get the 
seat in the Academy, to get the Berlin chair. And yet I know, that in truth none 
of all this is due to me, that never in my life have I been a philologist. And that 
I owe the successes which have come to me since 45 solely to the absolute lack 
of competitors in the East. 

My feeling and my situation with respect to retirement and the move to 
Dresden are quite uncertain. It tempts me and I fear it in equal measure. - The 
complete decline in my ability to write, the failure of my memory for names. 

We are so terribly alone. Most of our circle are dead, the living either unattain- 
ably remote - Martha, Walter Jelski, Sebba -or even more remote because of 
their hostility to the Soviet Union: Berthold Meyerhof, the Frankes. 

What have I produced in 1949? Hardly anything new. A couple of lectures, 
which I then gave dozens of times 'and more' in x places, even more frequently 
for the Soviet Friendship Society than for the Kulturbund. Hundreds of repe- 
titions and combinations and the same things over again. That, probably only 


December 1949 


307 


that, is what I can still manage. And if in Dolzschen I no longer have that, and 
I can no longer write? [. . .] 

Political high point of my appearances was the 21 Dec. In front of 6000 
workers at Wolfen Agfa and in the Halberstadt theatre. - I also became First 
Regional Chairman of the KB only this year - last year, because it is now 
1.40 a.m. 


1950 


7th January, Saturday evening 

I do not quite remember the content of this first January week. [Klemperer 
notes nevertheless continuing dictation of the Maupassant study, a political 
committee meeting and writing a newspaper article.] 

[...] 

Deutschlands Stimme [Germany's Voice] has written to me: eyewitness article 
for 13 Feb. 1950, Dresden's destruction. I read over my diary, read it to E., rather. 
Until now in some difficulty. Because I do not want to write about the Jewish 
memory, I must remain general. But that means worn-out material. 


11th January, Wednesday forenoon. Halle 

On Sunday, the 8th, wrote the article 'Shrove Tuesday, Dresden 1945'. 1 Suc- 
cessfully. 

[...] 


12th January, Thursday forenoon 

[...] 

Yesterday evening at the Kulturbund. Bloch, Leipzig, on modern philosophy. 
Against Heidegger, Jaspers - 'The Category of Hope'. I understood only with 
difficulty, but [. . .] the man impressed me immensely. Furthermore, profound 
humanist knowledge. Large grey head, probably early 60s. Personally acquainted 
with Georg and Otto musico (at present in Sydney). The session in front of a 
150 man hall lasted until 11.30. I learnt a great deal, more precisely picked it 
up. 


310 


The Lesser Evil 


17th January, Tuesday. Halle 

[. . . Kulturbund meetings, appointments with I. M. Lange, with Walther Victor.] 
The new Executive Committee hardly any different from the old one - still 
poorly attended . . . Nothing of interest occurred I agreed a Maupassant 

study in Sinn und Form with Becher. - At the Frankes in the late afternoon. 
Hostile foreign land. Worse than the three old women their unlovely niece, 
Walter's daughter, 25 years old. Derisive rejection of the Russians. I made my 
opinion very clear. The girl employed by the Americans for five years. Sad, this 
absolute separation in one and the same city. [. . .] 

Yet another Berlin pleasure: suddenly I'm told: we were too nervous about 
Barbusse, you can write the monograph. - And who will give me the time for 
it? - 1 must get out of this empty rushing around. 


31st January, Tuesday forenoon 

Continuing frost, 12 below zero, failing heating. Myself with a heavy cold. 
Increasing worry about E., she evidently has a serious heart problem. 

[...] 


3rd February, Friday evening 

Frost, ice, snow, failing heating; E. in the little room, I at my desk in my coat. 
E.'s condition unchanged. She has become very fat, walks with a stoop, does 
not get out of the house, is often in pain. - We have finally given notice on 
this apartment, negotiations with removers have commenced. In the summer 
semester I shall have a room in the Stadt Hamburg hotel. [. . .] 

We eat too well, we don't know what to do with our money, and Frau Stahl 
is a voracious soul of a slave, happy if she can go shopping and cook for and 
dine with her rich master and mistress. [. . .] But in a few weeks things will come 
to an end here, and it will be impossible to keep house in the same way in 
Dolzschen. 


8th February, Wednesday forenoon 

Worry about Eva. 

[...] 

A letter from Walther Victor which put us both out of humour: our book had 
disappointed him. Me he accused of making the Maupassant study too sombre 
and of neglecting the social historical aspect. Both nonsense. In Eva's text there 
were errors in the translation and instances of poor style and both had to be 
'retouched'. The ms was being set - we would find the 'retouches' in the proofs 
. . . That is very offensive and will lead to a quarrel. 


February 1950 


311 


16th February, Thursday 

Semper idem: With all the pursuit of trivia I forgot the day of father's death, 12 
Feb. Dear Lord - if one could imagine him watching you! He would be amused. 
/ feel embarrassed by this rushing about, this emptiness, this vanity, this noth- 
ingness around me and before me. - Mon. the 13th was very bad. Unproductive 
work on the final lecture (Beaumarchais 2 ) [...]. Then I drove to the departmental 
party of my Romanists in the refectory. Actually they are very sweet. The 
catering: a plate of potato salad, half a roll (literally - no sausage, nothing) a 
glass of beer. Later they also got some ersatz coffee and rubbery tasteless cakes. 
[. ..] Yet nevertheless content and cheerful. About 20 students, the elderly 
lecturer Rummel, Popinceanu, Macchi, Rita - very pretty and with a deep 
decollete Jo Agricola. I don't fit in. [. . .] I fled. Home at midnight very depressed. 
[...] 


18th February ; midnight Saturday 

On the evening of Thurs. 16 at the Leipzig KB high school group [. . .] at least 
200 people, Bloch chaired - 'Nation and Language'. Success. In the discussion 
Bloch was somewhat too polemically wordy and almost ill-humoured, [alleging] 
I had set the language of the intelligentsia above the more vigorous one of the 
people. [. . .] I defended myself briskly and was applauded. [. . .] 

The semester has come to an end. 


24th February , Friday forenoon 

[. . .] My time is increasingly claimed by meetings in which the same thing is 
chewed over and over again, in which I sleep, which I must nevertheless attend 
and at which from time to time I pick up a crumb. Must I really? Yes, if I am 
still out for a political career. Why am I still? Ambition? Fear of real work, of 
failing at creative work?? 

[. . . Klemperer is deeply impressed in more than one respect by an FDJ 
commemoration of the Scholl resistance group on Wed. evening, 22 February.] 
[. . .] The ceremony on Wednesday was downright martial. Honecker 3 had 
announced in Berlin: we are fighters for peace, we have grasped hammer and 
spade, we shall pick up rifles only to defend peace ...[...] Further: At Whitsun 
Berlin will belong to the 500,000 [All-German Youth Meeting], all Berlin with 
all its streets. We will knock the truncheon out of the hands of Stumm's police. 4 
And if they drive at us with police vehicles - the Ruhr miners have shown us 
how to overturn them. And the tanks Schuhmacher has threatened will not 
prevent the youth of the West from coming to us! [. . .] 'We will march through 
all of Berlin in our thousands.' Is that not absolutely a 'March on Berlin'? The 
tone has changed. Behind the tone there must be divisions (which call themselves 
unarmed People's Police . . .) It smacks of civil war. The minute's silence very 
impressive. The hall in semi-darkness, one flag at a time dipping as the names 
are read out, the flags consistently called the ' blue battle flags' of the FDJ. 
Altogether strong emphasis on closeness to the Komsomols, on its own 


312 


The Lesser Evil 


proletarian character and on Communism, nothing non-partisan at all. This 
really in contradiction to the National Front. It pleased me. [. . .] Meanwhile I 
have been presented with another honour so late and so much from sheer 
necessity, that now what I long for to some extent leaves me cold. Letter from 
Friedrich, Rector of Berlin University: invitation to give 'a guest lecture at the 
Humboldt University'. [. . .] After Krauss, who is lecturing just now, and only 
because Auerbach is not coming and not because there is no one else. And it 
says: one guest lecture? I have asked for details. [. . .] 


4th March , Saturday 

[. . .] My heart feels very heavy. Vahlen called on me yesterday, they are trying 
to keep me, want to transport me around in a university car, I am also a rectorial 
candidate (only my Party membership is against it!) - all of that goads me on, 
tickles my vanity - on the other hand: separation from E., impossibility of 
writing. I do not achieve anything any more. [. . .] 


7th March , Dresden-Dolzschen Am Kirschberg 


8th March , Wednesday evening 

So, back in Dolzschen again. Last chapter? Chapter at all? Or the same old rut, 
only a little more uncomfortable than before? 

Very disagreeable days. [. . .] 

Mon. the 2 packers, Tuesday the whole crowd of removal people, 6 or 7 apart 
from the packers. Then in the aft. with Kreuzig at the wheel and with lots 
of luggage and the cat, we drove to Dresden. [. . .] to Gusti. Weisser Hirsch, 
Collenbuschstr. Welcome, conversations, warmth - everything just as a couple 
of months ago. We stayed the night there, our tomcat got on with Gusti's black 
cat. No comfortable bed, no time to wash, Gusti's tenant is head driver at the 
Dresden Broadcasting Station. He drove us here at 7. The big removal van with 
the trailer and the helper tractor appeared at 10 with 7 people; unloading took 
until 2. We've acquired quite an imposing amount of property in these last few 
years. We had nothing at all any more and are now very amply furnished. 
Almost too amply. [. . .] 


11th March , Saturday evening. Dresden 

[...] 

Yesterday, Friday the 10th, Executive Committee meeting in Berlin. There 
with Kneschke (and wife). Picked up at 5.45 a.m. [However, probably the most 
interesting thing about this trip for Klemperer was the agreement on his guest 
professorship in Berlin:] I shall lecture for 4 hours once weekly: Romance 
Influences on Germany and [Lessing's] 'Hamburg Dramaturgy'. Just as in Halle. 
On Tue. in Berlin, on Wed. and Thurs. in Halle. But the transport question is 


April 1950 


313 


unsolved. Meusel [the dean] told me, Krauss has 4 guest hours. I am therefore 
not ranked lower. [. . .] 

The next few months - until June - will show whether I can achieve the 
heights of the vita activa and of outward honours in which I would bask for 
another year or so - striven for and interlocking: the badge of honour of the 
FDJ, the National prize, the rectorate, the Moscow delegation, the seat in the 
Academy [...], the seat in the Volkskammer [People's Chamber] - or whether I 
sink back into nothingness and plunge into my scribbling. This or would be far 
and away more sensible and better for my posthumous fame. 


19th March , Sunday evening. Dresden 

Chaos and cold until two days ago; since the day before yesterday springlike, 
but the chaos almost the same as on the first day. None of my uncertainties 
resolved. [. . .] Nothing has been unpacked ... I am most wearisomely labouring 
over the essay 'Humanism'. We sit opposite one another with our typewriters. 
E.'s mill clatters away with Spanish. Mine makes a sound every couple of 
minutes. [. . .] The villagey-neighbourly life up here is hardly changed. We sit 
quietly at home, Eva working hard, I making an effort to work hard. 


31st March , Friday forenoon. Dresden 

[Extensive reading as ever - Klemperer finds himself developing an antipathy 
to Goethe - completion of Humanism essay and an article on Lessing. Also the 
final break in relations with the Teubner publishing house.] 

Yesterday Frank Forbrig was here for a very long time. He has resigned from 
the SED [. . .], very uncertain whether this the right thing to do. He evidently 
has qualms. There is boundless rabble-rousing and slander from the Right, they 
call the new Ministry of Security [Staatssicherheit] the SS Ministry. [. . .] 


3rd April , 1 a.m. Monday night. Halle 

[...] 

Tomorrow into the unknown. An SED courier car is taking me to Berlin at 8. 
I have been clearing up until now. - Worry about E., who was in considerable 
pain yesterday evening. - For whom all the building, for whom without her? 
But the building work gives her pleasure. She lives more naively than I. 

[...] 


6th April , Thursday , 7 p.m. and (mainly) 7th April , Good Friday. 
Halle. Romance Languages and Literatures Department. My room 

[. . . Berlin: Quarrel with the new editor of the Kulturbund periodical Sinn und 
Form, Peter Huchel, 5 over the Maupassant article Becher had commissioned; I. 


314 


The Lesser Evil 


M. Lange promises once again that Riemerschmidt (of Riitten & Loening) will 
take VK's Literary History and his French Poetry. Meanwhile the Maupassant 
translation by Eva Kl. with an introduction by Victor Kl. has now been bought 
for bookshop sale in addition to the book club.] Here we contractually have a 
share in the profit. Never before has a book made us so much money and been 
a cause of such aggravation. [. . . Rita Hetzer and her partner gave Victor Kl. a 
lift back to Halle.] Then there was another halt because of a flat tyre. At this 
point, under a full moon on the autobahn, Rita told me that she feared - Robi 
did not yet know - she was expecting a child. 'My post-doctoral!' I told her it 
could be combined very nicely and she should be happy. Incidentally the couple 
will be able to marry in a couple of weeks, husband no. 1, 'missing' for so long, 
has now been declared dead. At the 'Stadt Hamburg' at 3 on the dot. 

The Stadt Hamburg is a big hotel opposite the main post office. Rented by 
the university. Institutes, rooms for a number of students, for guest professors. 
It was a battle before I was given a room for the whole semester. It is an 
'apartment' with bath, but unfortunately without warm water and without an 
electric plug. I have to pay 80M for it, but live altogether elegantly. The university 
is especially generous in its provision of food coupons for the Stadt Hamburg. 
[. . .] Curious: to be living like this in the centre of a city. I have not done so for 
endless years now [...]. Above all no peace and concentration. Too much 
consultation, arrangements, change-over, too much 'chatting'. [. . .] Efforts are 
being made on my behalf. The university car will take me to Dresden ever Friday 
and fetch me from Berlin every Tue. evening. [. . .] 


8th April, 7 a.rn. Saturday morning. Stadt Hamburg 

[...] 

This first outside week ends today. It really is quite uncomfortable and depress- 
ing. I have often felt very cold, food is difficult - above all always the weight 
on my mind: when will you be home? Certainly: I telephoned E. on Thur. 
evening, but it is not like being together after all. And nor do I believe that I 
shall get down to serious work. But perhaps everything will work itself out. 
Perhaps I should long for nothing more ardently, than not becoming rector. But 
I am afraid of disappearing completely. Leaving Halle [University] means giving 
up the Kulturbund chairmanship etc. [. . .] 


11th April, Tuesday evening. Dresden 

[...] 

For many years I have been tormented by my ignorance. I am forever thinking: 
will I manage to conceal it this time, too? I am like a gambler, who leaves his 
winnings on the table and continues playing the roulette wheel. I devoted all 
of today to the lecture 'Romance Influences'. It's pure repetition, but also costs 
me a whole day's preparation. [. . .] 

I. M. Lange sent me his Fontane 6 dissertation. 


April 1950 


315 


In our garden beautiful spring. But very cold April weather. 

Very odd this brief being-on-a-visit. My life very absurd. This therefore Easter 


1950. 

[...] 


16th April , Sunday afternoon. Dresden 

[. . .] Here tiredness, I. M. Lange - in order really to enjoy his thesis I would have 
to know Fontane's novels in detail; good sociological and historical analysis, as 
literary history it dangles in the air; I constantly have to repeat: Lukacs 7 is the 
concentrated antidote to aesthetic contemplation, but simply no more than an 
antidote [...]. Mere mechanical repetition of Marx-Engels. And what nar- 
rowness, [to say] that a writer is capable of describing only his own classl 
Altogether class here is what breed is for the Nazis. That belongs in my LQI and 
one is not allowed to say it. [. . .] since I've been sitting around in the department 
all day, there has been increasing intimacy, I use the familiar 'du' [you] with 
nearly all the seminar students; when an older comrade addressed me as 'Victor' 
during a class, it did indeed give me an odd feeling, but there were only half a 
dozen of the most loyal present [...]. 


26th April , 8 p.m. Wednesday evening. Seminar room , Halle 

The days in Dresden very depressed because of E.'s poor health. The terrible 
cough which affects her heart. And the conflict inside me, the bad conscience. 
[. . .] The lecture [at Berlin Univ.] came off this time. About 50 people in a lecture 
theatre that was far too big. I think they kept up. Seminar on Lessing, 8 a good 
dozen or so. I spoke almost alone. As yet there is nothing good or bad to be 
said. But the aura of Berlin University has gone for me. I seem to get along 
better here . . . Return journey from Berlin immediately after the classes. [. . .] 
Then here from 3-7. Tremendous attendance at my lecture, certainly over 120 
people (chairs dragged in, sitting on the steps). I spoke astonishing wisdom 
about the Provencals. [. . .] 


28th April , 7 a.m. Friday. Stadt Hamburg ; Halle 

[...] 

[More talks in different towns; seminar on the novella and Maupassant. Ever 
present in Klemperer's mind is the question of the rectorship. However, his 
colleague Jo Agricola suggests that her husband also has considerable achieve- 
ments to his name and perhaps Klemperer should rather give the world another 
couple of books.] 


29th April , Saturday evening. Dresden 

Yesterday drive to Dresden. Usual construction chaos. Eva better. [. . .] 


316 


The Lesser Evil 


Notice of death of Martha Wiechmann (63 years) 

My generation - one after the other. [. . .] 


4th-5th May ; 3 p.m. Thursday. Director's room , Halle 

Excessive tiredness, excessive rushing around, pains - how much longer? The 
rectorial election will be a trial by ordeal. Prospect fifty-fifty - Agricola is no 
longer my opponent, but someone from the bourgeois parties or a natural 
scientist. 

In Halle I finished reading Makarenko, 9 but I find Wilhelm Meister 10 repug- 
nant. Then drudgery on the lecture. [. . .] Then Neumark's secretary Frau Jahrig 
was here, anxious because the Association of Victims of Nazi Persecution intends 
to check to what extent she was involved in his affairs. She told us: N. is 
supposed to have been sentenced to 10 years and so far only to have served 3 
or 4 of them. Presumably in Russia. His wife and his stepson, Dr Kretzschmar, 
in Munich, K. working for a ministry. [. . .] 

The wireless on the evening of 1 May. First the Rias: Today 500,000 free people 
demonstrated for freedom on the Platz der Republik - while 'behind the Iron 
Curtain at the Brandenburg Gate' people were compelled to march, and 'some 
will have remembered a comrade from last year who is now doing forced labour 
in the camps or mines' . . . 

[Klemperer's lecture and seminar at the Humboldt University are a success, 
but his satisfaction is clouded:] [. . .] then I learned from Frau Steinhoff, that 
Krauss is functioning as deputy professor and department head. That weighed 
very heavily on my spirits again. I should free myself of this damned vanitas. - 
Frau Steinhoff told me, her husband, previously first minister of Brandenburg, 
was now Interior Minister of the Republic. SED. Evidently a Jewish lawyer and 
Victim of Fascism, in some way close to the Schaps family (with its former Reich 
Supreme Court judge). 11 [. . .] 


10th May, midday Wednesday. Director's Room, Halle; ditto 11th 
May, Thursday 

[A new Maupassant problem has arisen, this time not to do with the article for 
Sinn und Form , but in the form of objections by Wendt, the editor at Aufbau 
Verlag, to Klemperer's introduction to Eva Klemperer's translation of Mau- 
passant novellas. 12 ] 

The man is seeing pink elephants! I, I! glorify the SS, an anti-Marxist, etc. 
Sentences torn out of context, arbitrary emphases. [. . .] The letter was waiting 
for me on Friday night. Gusti W. was with us on Saturday evening. I: 'we are in 
a madhouse.' G. 'It's quite natural, it was just the same in Russia, it is impossible 
to avoid such a stage. Restrain yourself as much as possible, keep in the back- 
ground - soon the people who have not made fools of themselves now or who 
have not compromised themselves will be needed.' She advised me to withdraw 
the piece. As already said, my free days were entirely soured, E. found me 
intolerable . . . Lotte also visited us. 


May 1950 


317 


[...] 

[Going to Berlin on 9 May, Klemperer notes the rigorous checks on travellers 
to the city from the Eastern Zone of the GDR. At a Kulturbund meeting 
Klemperer's Maupassant introduction is heavily criticised for lacking a Marxist 
evaluation of Maupassant's views.] 


18th May ; Thursday afternoon , Ascension Day. Dresden , with the 
obligatory thunderstorm 

[Klemperer gives up his resistance over the Maupassant introduction, and think- 
ing of rectorship and National Prize tells I. M. Lange:] - ' Do what you like with 
it, I give you carte blanche and will let myself be surprised, I don't want to see the 
thing any more.' [. . .] 

[His faculty in Halle recommends Klemperer for the National Prize. But there 
are other honours for Klemperer. The chairman of the Student Council and of 
the FDJ (Communist youth organisation) at Halle University presents Klem- 
perer, who is honorary chairman of the student FDJ, with an official invitation 
to the all-German meeting of the organisation. Klemperer would have a place 
on the VIP rostrum, though he would not yet have honorary membership, the 
first batch of such awards would go to senior political figures.] They then 
brought me the blue shirt [of the FDJ], I had to put it on immediately and wear 
it in the department, am wearing it even now. [. . .] 


24th May, Wednesday forenoon. Dresden 

On Monday I read in the Tagliche Rundschau, that the Central Committee of the 
FDJ in Berlin had presented honorary memberships not to 2 or 3 ministers, but 
to x people, to Tom, Dick and Harry, but not to the cretin moi. 13 1 contracted a 
'kidney inflammation' and sent a corresponding telegram to Berlin and an 
express letter to Rita Hetzer, had my lectures cancelled and am now sitting here 
quietly without interruption [. . .] until 1st June (from 18 May). I find the great 
quietness, after the excessive activity of recent months, very difficult, but I shall 
get used to it. The failure in the FDJ business, very bitter for me, once again 
accentuates what I suffered last year with respect to the National Prize. This is 
now the beginning, perhaps already the verdict in my 'trial by ordeal'. Serves 
me right. Why am I always chasing after vanitas? 

Perhaps more bitter than this defeat is my great divergence from the SED on 
all intellectual matters. But I cannot just move over to the West - it is even 
more repugnant to me. In the SED it is only scholarship, only the temporary 
hysteria, the 150%ers, that I loathe, but over there it is everything. But this 'only 
scholarship' sours the rest of my life and keeps me after all in my old place 
'between stools', or, rather, it throws me back there, after I appeared to have 
succeeded in getting a better place to sit. [. . .] 

I have just had the vexation of the Maupassant. On Saturday I wrote my 
discussion notes on the 'sick German language': they will no doubt not be 


318 


The Lesser Evil 


printed thanks to the '150% purism'. On Sunday I wrote the article 'West 
German spoken here', for Aufbau, the review of the Hausenstein anthology The 
Drunken Boat. It will no doubt not be printed, because I include Rimbaud among 
the Decadents, and Stephan Hermlin for one (inter alia honorary member of 
the FDJ) swears by him and Eluard. I have especially rotten luck with French 
poetry - whatever I do, always in splendid isolation between stools! [. . .] I shall 
be forced back into the situation of the Hitler years: working for my desk drawer. 
Perhaps someone will publish it one day. 


27th May , Saturday morning. Dresden 

[•••] 

Reading: Sayers and Kahn The Great Conspiracy Against Russia . 14 Where does 
the truth lie?? It all seems like a novel by Sue. 15 I do not see what Trotsky's 16 
power was based on. I do not see how Lenin-Stalin could maintain themselves 
against him, if he really had that power. I do not see how Stalin could hesitate 
so long before beginning the counter-offensive and then still be able to win. I 
cannot explain the behaviour of the accused in the Moscow Trials. 17 Nor Trot- 
sky's end. 18 And above all: what was the substantial dispute between Lenin/Stalin 
and Trotsky? What is, what did Trotskyism want? 19 Again and again I miss a 
clear answer. 

[Klemperer regards with a degree of equanimity the spiralling costs of repairs 
to the Dolzschen house.] We are secure - to the extent that there still is any 
security. At all events there is a sufficient financial reserve - for whom should 
we save it? If E. gets enjoyment from building, let her build. There is nothing I 
would have to do without because of it. [. . .] 

At least a year ago Hans Meyerhof wrote me a letter, which I did not answer 
because of its strangeness and empty phrases. Yesterday from Dresden City 
Council the copy of a letter from Hans Meyerhof, commercial representative, 
Palermo, to the Lord Mayor. He inquires a second time, whether anything is 
known of the friend of his youth, the Romance literatures scholar, Victor 
Klemperer. Provides particulars about himself: 70 years of age, 4 years in a 
concentration camp, not only as racially persecuted but also for his political 
stance, his family in Germany exterminated ... I shall have to reply. 

Evening 

A review of the week on Hamburg radio. Against the 'Communist youth meet- 
ing'. 20 About the recent conference of the Western powers. 21 One hears exactly 
the same as from our side. Only where we say the SU, they always say the 
West [...]. The West protects freedom, is forced to spend more and more on 
armaments, because Russia wants to attack Europe and crush it. The West wants 
German unity, the West is rebuilding Germany. Where does the truth lie ? - 
The only certain thing is, that war is being openly prepared. [. . .] I believe, 
nevertheless, that the real truth lies with Russia. 


June 1950 


319 


Today I wrote a couple of lines of The Rending of Language', a lot of 
correspondence. Letter to Hans Meyerhof [. . .] 


30th May , Tuesday evening. Dresden 

[. . .] Neumark's secretary was here again today, with her daughter Brigitte, the 
Russian teacher. Frau Jahrig is fighting for recognition as a Victim of Fascism; 
she has to defend herself because of her post then. The obscure Neumark case. 
He is said to be serving a ten-year sentence. Was he completely innocent? [. . .] I 
had to advise Frau J. on what to write to the Association of Victims of Nazi 
Persecution. In such a way that she is completely exonerated, that he is not 
incriminated. 

[. . . Klemperer hopes he can come to an arrangement with the publisher 
Riemerschmidt - of Riitten and Loening - Teubner having let him down.] I'm 
curious, but not passionately worried. I no longer rightly believe that I shall 
complete my 18ieme ... [. . .] 


1st June , Thursday forenoon. Dresden 
[Klemperer completes The Rending of Language'.] 

[On the - GDR - wireless, outrage at the detention at the inner-German 
border of Western participants returning from the Youth Meeting in East Berlin. 
Klemperer is sceptical of the militancy of the language used . . .] What on earth 
does 'the struggle for peace' mean? I ask myself that again and again, and now, 
an hour ago, it was reported: the Bonn government has ordered the raising of 
the blockade. I am more disgusted than ever before. The situation of the day, 
the historical course of events, which as an activist I am right in the middle of 
and not at all at the deepest spot, is completely opaque. History can never be 
known. Because I live through it myself, and because I have not lived through 
it myself. Stand where one will - one never knows. 


4th June, Sunday afternoon. Dresden 

In a few minutes, everything that I had built up for myself over 5 years, has 
completely collapsed. All influence and power of my position gone - a has- 
been. 'You are on the wrong track, Comrade Klemperer - you want to move 
ahead too quickly, the Party is strong enough to stay in the background: the 
university, the Kulturbund must be led by members of the bourgeois parties.' 

On Thurs., 1 June, I was driven to Halle as usual. Rita immediately told me 
of the Party's position. I dealt with my seminar papers. After that the 'council' 
in the main hall. [. . .] 

[Klemperer's Kulturbund humiliation actually takes place on the Saturday 
morning.] 

Drive back after 3 p.m. Very hot, very exhausted, inevitably an irritable clash 
with E. [...]. We had to drop Gusti at the Weisser Hirsch . . . Landscape beautiful. 
Here after 8 shattered. - At the end of my tether. 


320 


The Lesser Evil 


I have frequently been leafing through Gerhard Rohlfs' Romanische Philologie 22 
[. . .] and wrote him an emotional (perhaps too heartfelt) letter 'with a quiet 
sense of shame' at being mentioned so frequently and so generously by him, 
whom I had thought to be my enemy. It really is very important to me. 
(Acknowledgement in the West, survival of my things, so long ignored. - He 
did not mention everything, of course, but essential parts nevertheless.) Apart 
from that the book is a great help to me [...]. 

Letter from Inge and Peter Klemperer. The first letter from him. [. . .] Birth of 
a son. Caesarian. Already quite lively after 4 days. She writes: ' Blue flag outside 
the window, the first Klemperer pioneer .' Oh Grandfather Berthold!! [. . .] 


8th June, Thursday afternoon. Halle. Department, my room 

[...] 

Mackie Kahane came to the club. In Berlin with his family until the 20th, but 
wants to go back [to Prague] permanently. [. . .] In the courtyard of the university 
I met Peter, young father, very happy. I told him: if your father were to look 
down from heaven - he would start spinning round. . . [. . .] Robi's mother feels 
flattered, that Rita, the intellectual, is now getting 'properly married' to her Robi, 
formerly a carpenter. The new class structure [. . .] educated and uneducated. [. . .] 

During the drive [from Berlin] and here the next day conversations about my 
future. Great bitterness for me, lengthy hesitation. Final decision: I shall become 
emeritus, but retain my position here. [. . .] 


9th June, Friday forenoon. Department, Halle 

[Klemperer has a very encouraging conversation with the editor from Dietrich, 
Rudolf Marx. Once again Klemperer begins to make plans for future publications. 
Later that day he is further cheered by the popularity of his classes.] 

[..] 


16th June, 4.30 Friday morning. Stadt Hamburg, Halle 

[Klemperer discusses the preparation and arrangements for the elections of 15 
Oct. to the GDR Volkskammer and to regional and local assemblies.] 


21 st June, Wednesday forenoon. Director's room, Halle 

The chaos of the house-building, the oppressive sultriness. E. in a satisfactory 
condition. 

[. . . More problems with crudeness and inflexibility in cultural politics, with 
the '150%ers'.] 'If someone plays the super-patriot', said E., 'then everyone is 
afraid.' The 'super' can be Junker or Red or Nazi - semper idem. Yesterday 
evening with I. M. Lange in the HO cafe. He cannot publish my contribution 
to the discussion on the 'sick German language'. [. . .] 'there is a very sharp wind 


June 1950 


321 


blowing' . . . 'we have to be very careful.' - Everything points to war, civil war, 
terror. The cultural course of the SED is odious to me, and at the moment I am 
constantly its victim - but theoretically and practically there is no other place 
for me, in all this wretchedness in self-defence it stands for the only true cause. 

[...] 

[. . .] On Monday evening it had been announced on the wireless: Prof. 
Kuczynski resigned 23 [as chairman of the German-Soviet Friendship Society], in 
order to devote himself entirely to his sociological institute - scholarly work, 
too many commitments ... I: 'What has happened?' E.: It might be the truth 
for once. I: Of course even the truth is not impossible, but it is the least 
probable. - Kneschke: 'Both Kuczynski and Mark, the regional secretary, were 
emigres in England. Impossible in the long term!' Then in the evening Lange 
said Mark had also resigned, the new president is Ebert, 24 the mayor of [East] 
Berlin. 24 The ever more tense situation evident in this respect also: no one, not 
even the best comrade, is accepted for the People's Police if he has relatives in 
the West. 

[...] 


25th June, Sunday evening. Dresden 

[. . .] 'Have the honour of announcing the wedding on 23 June 1950 of Dr 
Rita Hetzer nee Tomaschek and Robert Schober.' [. . .] Registry Office (1904) 
Genthiner Str.: 25 '...I declare you united in marriage, the charge is 3.75, the 
next party please . . .' [In the past] all solemnity was left to the Church. Now 
the registrar first says a couple of sentences about the structure of the state, 
which is founded on the family, then conducts matters with dignity and says 
in conclusion: 'As a sign of your union now exchange the rings in front of me.' 
The rings were attached to the ribbon of the bride's bouquet. 


26th June, Monday forenoon. Dresden 

[. . .] Crippling tiredness. - New and only half-digested: Stalin's essay on lin- 
guistics. 26 I already got a telephone call about it in Halle. I still have to think 
seriously about it. - Now first the lecture. 


30th June, Friday morning. Stadt Hamburg, Halle 

War? Korea looks bad. 27 Rita in complete despair yesterday: 'what have I (my 
generation) had of life so far?' 

[More problems with censorship. South American novellas which Eva Klem- 
perer had translated should never have 'passed'. 28 On the other hand it turns 
out that Werner Krauss had written a positive and flattering report of the 
French Poetry book rejected by Teubner after the objections to French Prose.] 
Meanwhile a Writers' and Cultural Congress of Westerners and anti-Soviet 
people is meeting in Berlin West. 29 IM leafs through the Poetry again, which 
was already castrated in 48: 'Romains 30 has to go, of course, the swine is sitting 


322 


The Lesser Evil 


down with Gide over there! I: 'Romains is central, also to the study' [. . .] Great 
agitation on both sides. He: 'we have thrown a 72-year-old out of the Party, the 
same would happen to you, the publishing house would lose its licence, if 
Romains appeared . . .' I: 'then nothing at all any more by me . . . stupid slavery 
. . etc. We parted barely reconciled ... [. . .] 

1.30 p.m. Department 

Terrific heat. 

[. . .] Back home I made ready an express letter for E. with a packet of cigarettes 
and a few words of love - 'well then, I love you!' 31 for the 29th. For the same 
46th wedding anniversary I bought her sumptuous chocolate things in the HO 
shop. - To bed at 2. 

Yesterday, Thursday 29th June, mood in the department dominated by the 
sudden threat of war - battles in Korea. Rita said: 'What do / have from life? I 
want to have my husband now, I want to establish myself as a scholar - is 
everything going to be smashed again?' Frau Stahl said, she would rather die 
than suffer the calamity of war again. I thought about our little house - before 
it has been completely renovated, it could have a bomb through the roof . . . 
Today the world looks a bit calmer. For how long? [. . .] The seminar in the 
afternoon was cancelled because of a peace demonstration [. . .] 


5th July, midday etc. Wednesday. Halle, Director's room 

Terrible sultriness, serious exhaustion, journey in the hot slow diesel carriage 
was torture. 

Essential points 

[. . .] The SPD man [who had been making critical remarks about the SED on 
the train] also said: 'I can also procure coffee for you more cheaply than your 
man in the KB. I get it from the Jews , they don't bother about West and East, 
they do business between the sectors and abroad.' I responded: Only the Jews? 
He: of course not 'only' . . . but the Jews nevertheless. He also thought that the 
former pg's had been treated too harshly. There had been Socialism there too! 
[i.e. in the Nazi Party]. 

[.-•] 


6th July, 5.30 a.m. Thursday. Stadt Hamburg, Halle. Pyjamas 

[...] 

Here on Wednesday altogether exhausted and wretched. Waiting for me was 
a Guest delegate card for the SED Party Congress 32 - 1 was a delegate to the first, 
not to the second. I was very pleased, although it will be the same old thing 
nevertheless. [. . .] 


July 1950 


323 


9th July ; 1 p.m. Sunday. Dresden 

[•••] 

[To Anny Klemperer's new apartment . . .] Anny gave me newspapers on the 
Writers' Congress [i.e. the Congress for Cultural Freedom in West Berlin], which 
is costing me the Romains chapter in my French Poetry. - Who is Koestler ? 33 1 
have already encountered the name several times. This complete isolation from 
the people over there! Anny will get an important place in the Curriculum. 
Entirely senile, stone deaf, with a long ear trumpet and completely agile, 
proletarianised, [...]. At the same time pulled to the Right by her eldest son. 
Did I already write, that this Georg Klemperer warned his cousin Lotte against 
me? Yet married to a Jew. 

[...] 


13th July , Thursday afternoon. Department 

[...} 

[Klemperer has been invited to attend a ceremony of the Academy in Berlin, 34 
he attends, although he feels very bitter about not having been elected himself. 
His mood is not improved when an Academy member reads out the names of 
the new foreign corresponding members and mispronounces the Italian city of 
Pavia.] . . . Pah-via [. . .] I thought it was a disgrace. I am already exasperated 
when I hear foreign names mispronounced on the wireless. But here in the elite 
centre of democratic education! [. . .] A Halle car really did come at 3 and slowly 
drove me and Stern 35 home, with an engine repair on the way. Stern related 
very interestingly [. . .] that he was, and is, a member of the Austrian CP, and is 
here on 'Party leave', that he was in Moscow from 36, where he advanced to 
the post of Professor of Modem German History (lecturing in Russian) at 
Moscow University, took part in the war at the front with the Red Army as 
officer and propaganda speaker, then became professor at Vienna University, is 
now in the closest contact with our Party leadership. I would really like to know 
whether this huge man, who looks more like a heavy dark-haired grey-eyed 
Russian than anything else, who drives his own car, knows a bit about the 
engine, goes hunting wild boar in the Harz - whether he is Jewish. I don't think 
so - but Leo Stern from Vienna?? He has a good opinion of me. I had the Tarty 
grip'. That was a Russian expression and meant a no-nonsense way of acting 
for the Party ...[...] He advised me to concentrate on my Halle professorship, 
refuse all other teaching and lecturing activities - write. 


20th July ; 5.15 Thursday morning. 30 Briickenstr., at Ladendorf's, 
Berlin-Niederschoneweide [Klemperer's quarters for the Party 
Congress] 

[...] 

Awake since 3.45 - latent excitement and overfatigue. The rectorship affair. 

[...] 


324 


The Lesser Evil 


21st July, 5.30 Friday morning. Pyjamas 

[At the above meeting news came through of the arrest of anti-nuclear weapons 
protestors in West Berlin, who had been gathering signatures for the 'Stockholm 
Appeal.] Yesterday at the Party Congress: of the 1200 arrested, 500 are still 
imprisoned in the French Sector, brutally treated . . . Storm of protest, resolution, 
demand to the French commandant. 36 [. . .] 

Party Congress 

[. . .] Characteristic of this whole congress: at every step, whenever entering or 
leaving, dozens of times, always the strictest check, always the most careful 
comparison of delegate's card, identity card and party membership book. Once 
yesterday I left my delegate's card inside the hall, Rita had to fetch it, otherwise 
I would not have been allowed in. The justified fear of West Berlin. Likewise on 
Thursday morning, when Rita had to go to the checkpoint, the same fuss. Here 
Becher happened to be standing beside us. I did not immediately recognise him, 
he spoke no word of greeting. Nor did I. As I was explaining to the steward who 
Rita was, Becher said coldly to me: That's pointless. You might as well explain 
existentialism to him . . . Since the Sinn und Form Maupassant business I find 
Becher even more unpleasant than before. I have no friends in the Berlin KB, I 
shall neither enter the Volkskammer nor get the National prize. [. . .] 

Features of the Congress: food very abundant, barbaric - but one is lost in the 
mass, has to wait endlessly, can't find a bus, can't order anything in the foyer, 
in the electric light-bulb factory [where the Congress canteen was], is left to 
one's own resources. The vast hall of the Congress. 37 Thousands. The huge 
square in front of it, with the chaos of cars. Former central cattle yard. Now 
Leninallee-Stalinallee. Perhaps one says 'great Stalin' too often at this congress, 
perhaps one stands up too often in his honour, claps too long. The contradiction: 
the presentation is entirely as Communist Party and as a Soviet country - 1 very 
much approve of and very much like that - but there is also an emphasis on the 
Bloc and the whole of Germany. [. . .] And Pieck: here he is Comrade P., Party leader, 
Communist, workers', emphatically workers' leader; and yet also President of 
GDR, which wants to represent all of Germany. The profound contradiction of 
the Congress, of our situation altogether. And ever stronger the claim to be all 
of Germany, and ever stronger the imitation of the Soviet party as 'party of a 
new type' 38 [. . .] 


22nd July, 5 a.m. Saturday morning. Pyjamas, at Ladendorf's 

What I noted yesterday emerged even more emphatically in the course of the 
day, in Grotewohl's speech - and most drastically - in the march-past and in 
the speech by the Volkspolizei [People's Police]: the contradiction. We want to be 
Bolsheviks and we want to represent all Germany with an all-encompassing 
National Front ... [. . .] 

Everyone's mood enthusiastic, really sweeping me along. Always at the back 
of my mind: it's like Nurnberg, but this time you yourself are in the Party and 


July 1950 


325 


on top - but then again always: but this time by God it's the cause of mankind 
and of good. [. . .] 

The strictly legal treatment [by Grotewohl] of the Potsdam resolutions on the 
Oder-Neisse Line 39 and of the 'Bonn puppet state', above all of the behaviour of 
the occupying powers there. The speech will no doubt appear as a pamphlet. It 
will be most important material for the LQI: from Party language to state 
language, of German Bolshevism. 

[. . .] Along with Social Democratism, opportunism and sectarianism, 40 ‘self- 
criticism' is the most characteristic catchword of this Party Congress. [. . .] 

The two big parades. First the FDJ. Enthusiasm at the Friendship Song. A 
robust FDJ girl from the line of demonstrators next to me grabs my right hand, 
the person sitting beside me grabs my left hand, and during the Friendship 
Song we swayed from side to side linked together. Remarkably my heart bore it. 
All the clapping and rising to one's feet. Where does the clapping rhythm come 
from? The clapping with raised hands a little Nazi-like, Hitler Youth. [. . .] 
Above all the Police demonstration. Little Nurnberg, little Red Army. In their 
greenish khaki shirts with the peaked SA caps, the set faces, the military 
commands and marching! I cannot get rid of memories of 1933-45. But the 
enthusiastically cheered words of their speaker: 'We are the first police force, 
which is not marching against the workers, but for them . . .' [. . .] 

Always this mixing up and merging of Party, leading Party, state as such. 

[...] 


23rd July ; 8.30 Sunday. Conference hall 

[. . .] Always the two sides of this Party Congress: CP and all of Germany, peace 
and war. One cannot even say that they say one thing and mean the other; 
they say both, quite openly and in the same breath. Are they naive enough to 
believe that they will be believed? I think, they really are. 

[■••] 

Changing mood: now it's a waste of time, a vanitas - now an experience, a 
page of the Curriculum. Yesterday Ulbricht's day. An ugly Socrates with a little 
beard. An outstanding speaker and satirist. 


24th July , Monday morning. Niederschoneweide 

Today I feel almost chilly. But the most important feature of this Congress after 
all remains the longing for my pyjamas, the terrible sweating, the shirt hung 
over the chair to dry. Ulbricht's closing words strengthened the impression of his 
speech: satirical humour, tremendous optimism, Berlin cheek without personal 
arrogance [. . .] 

Again and again in Ulbricht's speech 'the alliance between workers and 
"technical intelligentsia'", always only ' technical intelligentsia'. We poor small 
fry [...]. In his closing words Ulbricht mentioned Becher and described the task 
of the Kulturbund as solely (really!) to encourage the young writers and artists 


326 


The Lesser Evil 


to write stories, exemplary ones, about work and the work ethic of today, it 
should support 'progressive writers'. 

[...] 

Everyone is against 'pragmatism', everyone for 'self-criticism' and for com- 
petition. Everyone confesses sins, gladly accepts the other's charges, vows 
improvement. [. . .] 

Every speaker concludes with homage to Stalin. The formula is unfailingly: 
' Our leader and teacher' (rabbi!) 

[...] 


26th July ; 3 p.m. Kulturbund, Berlin 

The suffering is over. It was tremendously exhausting, especially because of the 
heat and because of the lack of underwear and water, after that because of the 
rush, on a full stomach, to the buses outside the light-bulb factory; it was often 
dreary, I dropped off - but it was tremendously interesting and truly historic. 

[...] 

Peaceful! The demonstration yesterday in the Lustgarten. As our buses rattled 
up, it was still raining. Later it cleared up. The forest of flags, the crowd of 
people, the slowness of the passing procession, the thinning out on the road. 
But then came the police march-past. No goose step, but in very good order, 
arms swinging, with the salute by the officers in front, with the Nazi-like and 
traditional arm position of the flag-bearers. Without weapons - but thousands 
[. . .] And at the rear the 'Marine Police'. This is the new Reichswehr. To 'preserve 
peace'. Then when one heard Pieck's closing address! Hate-filled Go home, 
Yankee; it is difficult not to judge this speech a war speech. 


29th July. Dresden 

[...] 

The actual Party Congress ended late on Monday afternoon. There was a 
pause during the meal at the light-bulb factory. Queuing up: the Saxon textile 
industry presented each of the almost 2\ thousand delegates with cloth (with 
lining and the rest) for a suit or a dress. The light-bulb factory presented each 
of its guests with a 40 watt bulb. Before that we had already received a large 
valuable packet of books. The breakfast paper bags were each time so abundantly 
provided with butter, conserves, sweets, even chocolate, that I gave a lot to my 
nice hosts, brought some of it home. [. . .] 


29th July, Saturday 

[...] 

Yesterday, Friday the 28th, started out at 7.30, here [Dolzschen] in good time, 
coffee with the driver and his wife. Afterwards just us. Very great mutual delight 
[. . .] at being together again. [. . .] The centre of attention [. . .] throughout the 


August 1950 


327 


last few days the rectorship ; a) my inner conflict, b) the external still continuing 
uncertainty. 

[Essentially Klemperer's hopes have once again been dashed. It appears that 
the Party wanted a 'bourgeois' figure to represent the university, even though 
at this point assuring Klemperer of its support. Perhaps also there were dis- 
agreements between different fractions, between the region and Berlin, which 
led to the extraordinarily drawn-out and inconclusive proceedings which so 
frustrated him.] 


30th July, 10 p.m. Sunday. Dresden 

[...] 

For weeks I have been carrying Bert Brecht's Threepenny Novel 41 back and forth 
between the cities. Having read about a third, I am now laying it aside. Very 
witty, biting satire, a great deal of esprit - but unbearable in the long run. Eva 
is right: these are no people, everything human is absent. 

In fact, whatever we do or say, we are both constantly obsessed by the thought 
of the rectoral election. After all, the shape of our old age depends on the 
outcome. - When I left Halle on Friday, I was the Party's candidate - am I still? 
Will it muster 8 of the 15 votes? I shall find out in 18 hours. 

[...] 


2nd August, Wednesday morning after 7 a.m. Stadt Hamburg, Halle 

[Then on Monday afternoon Klemperer learns that another academic, Stubbe, 42 
has been elected, he feels like throwing in the towel as far as his academic posts 
are concerned, but later still that same day it turns out that Stubbe has declined 
the offer!] I tried to suppress all feelings of hope - and yet all day I played around 
with the formulation of the telegram to E., if I became rector nevertheless. I 
asked Prokert to leave a note for me in the Stadt Hamburg, saying how the vote 
had turned out. Against my judgement I kept on thinking there would be a 
bouquet of flowers and congratulations on my table. [. . .] Back [from Berlin] 
about midnight. No flowers. [. . .] So still Stubbe after all or Agricola. 

[...] 

I cannot suppress an awful feeling of bitterness, even though I know that 
nothing bad has happened to me. Vanitas. I cannot get rid of a double load of 
remorse with respect to Eva. On Monday I was ghastly to her the whole morning: 
the agonising wait for the car, the frightful, frightful paint-stinking chaos of the 
rebuilding, the costs forever rising to insane heights. And secondly: E. feels cut 
off from the world in Dolzschen - she lacks a car . D'ou prendre? 43 

At this very moment a letter from Prokert. Stubbe has declined. Election 
postponed to 15 September. - The noose loosened again. Stubbe - I learned 
from a telephone call from Vahlen - appears to be keeping himself free to 
succeed Stroux (Director of the Academy). 


328 


The Lesser Evil 


16th August , Wednesday evening. Dresden 

[. . .] All day the noise of rebuilding, in the evening E. does not feel well. - Today 
finally I had a car come up and drove with her to an appointment with Rostoski 
at the Friedrichstadter Hospital. [. . .] Very elderly gentleman, hard of hearing, 
trembling lips - but as was our experience in the past he appears to practise his 
trade with care. He seemed to find nothing disquieting with respect to the 
heart - but now the usual business of the X-ray etc. examination arises: Stomach? 
Kidneys? There is no cause for joy, one is always afraid. 


18th August , Friday evening. Dresden 

Again to the Friedrichstadter Hospital with E. X-rayed, examined once more by 
a younger senior physician. No cancer, etc., heart not too bad. But blood 
pressure 140. The doctor said to me: 'Condition at the moment not bad - but 
with such high blood pressure, sudden death is always possible - I have to tell 
you that/ It weighs heavily on me. [. . .] 


23rd August , Wednesday afternoon. Dresden 

I work as much as I can. Much distraction during the day. In the evening I fall 
asleep immediately after our meal. Later, when E. has gone to bed - she lies 
down very early - I pull myself together. On a bad evening I leaf and browse 
until about midnight; on a good one I work intensively, sometimes very late. 
Yesterday, today rather, I finished the Bel Ami afterword 44 at 3 in the morning, 
and it has turned out well and is more than mere repetition. [. . .] 

The propaganda trip to the West on behalf of the German-Soviet Society now 
intrudes into the holidays. The discussion at the Society's offices here took place 
on the morning of Mon., the 27th. [. . .] The plan: speakers to the existing, not 
banned, not permitted Soviet Society groups in the West, preparation for a 
congress of the Society set for 16-17 Sept, in Dusseldorf, where our new name 
'German-Soviet Friendship Society' is also to be proclaimed over there. The 
plan seems far too bold to me, when I think of the constant Western agitation 
against us. [. . .] 

On 'leafing and browsing'. Erich Weinert: The Interlude . 4S (Volk and Welt send 
us all their new publications at cost price, although we have completely fallen 
out with them.) Why did I know nothing at all of the man during the Weimar 
years? A crucially important question. I see from the foreword, that everyone who 
is in the government now, was in the old Communist Party and served on the 
Russian front, usually as propagandists. Why do I know nothing whatsoever 
about all of that? My blindness during the Weimar years crucial to the Cur- 
riculum, because the blindness of a whole stratum. - Aufbau's 5th anniversary 
almanac. (Why without me? Why is the LTI not in any shop window? Why 
have I disappeared from the Aufbau periodical? Unpleasantnesses. Invitation to 
the Aufbau publishing house banquet - I am almost glad that I am forced to 


August 1950 


329 


decline, because on the 4 Sept, in question I shall be on the front line of peace, 
in Stuttgart or thereabouts.) [. . .] 


25th August , Friday morning. Dresden 

Completely knocked out by days of heat and sultriness. [. . .] Today in Berlin, 
Seelenbinder Hall, the National Congress. 46 A most elaborately mounted dem- 
onstration. I have often asked myself: What is, what does the National Council 47 
do? Likewise: what do the Peace Committees do? Everywhere the same gestures 
and speeches, one knows them by heart. Must there be this deadly monotony - 
does it not have a deadening effect? The old question, which I repeatedly ask 
myself - and what good are 'protests'? 

I listen to Rias every day. It says the same about the SU as we say about the 
USA. Exactly the same. The USA has released war criminals from Landsberg 
prison, Dietrich and business leaders. 48 We denounce. Rias says: And Sedlacek? 
And names others besides. It reports on a mass trial in Waldheim, of which I 
have never heard, on hundreds, thousands rather, of very long sentences, it 
names individual judges and prosecutors, a number of whom are explicitly 
described as 'notorious' 483 . [. . .] The latest is the official strengthening of the 
'police' over there, who must be strong enough to be able to balance our 'police'. 
Etc. etc. And in Korea a proper war, a proper full-blown war. And today a 
Chinese note about Formosa, 49 nothing less than an ultimatum: 'We will not 
tolerate . . .' I can hardly believe, that we shall avoid war and civil war. I do not 
believe that the Rias accusations are false - because we have a Communist state 
or are at least striving for one, LDP and CDU have to go along with it, are three- 
quarters fictitious, we are an organ and part of the SU - and I do not believe, 
either, that in the long run the Communist system can exist innocuously next 
to the capitalist one - but for all of that: the more just cause - on earth there is 
none that is entirely just, the Lord above is to blame for that - WE are the more 
just cause . . . But freedom for scholarship? [. . .] 


29th August , Tuesday evening. Dresden 

Eternal tiredness - wearisome work on 'Goethe 1949' for the Essays. 

LTI royalties account for first half-year 1950: 1937 copies sold, 2356.99M. 
More copies could be sold, the publisher does little for my book, which is 
mentioned nowhere, but it trickles on nevertheless. And it will last. [. . .] That 
provides a degree of consolation as non omnis moriar. [. . .] 

[...] 


1st September , 11 p.m. Friday evening. Dresden 

[•••]! am now supposed to be 'over there' from the 10 th- 18 th, first of all speak 
several times in the Frankfurt area, then participate in the Diisseldorf Congress. 
I don't quite believe it yet, I believe that the Congress will be banned and the 
talks stopped before I get there. [. . .] 


330 


The Lesser Evil 


That means the 4 Sept, is now free: the 5th anniversary of the Aufbau 
publishing house. I had already turned down the invitation - not unwillingly 
since I do not feel at ease in the Berlin Kulturbund. Now today I have belatedly 
accepted - very reluctantly since apart from costing me time and money the 
affair could also put me out of humour: somewhere the VIPs are gathered 
around Pope Becher, and I hang around with the misera plebs. 50 1 am not valued 
in Berlin, there I am old, from the provinces and done with. [. . .] I am going, 
so as to dutifully 'show my face'. [. . .] 

E.'s health is a very little bit better, continues to worry me greatly She is much 
aged, much weakened. I tell myself repeatedly, that neither of us still has a right 
to health and a long life. There is a certain dull resignation in me and [yet] in 
everything I do I am pursued by vanitas vanitatum. Money, house, outward 
success, writing - what is the point of it all when one is at death's door? And 
yet I cannot leave go of the vanity and the desires. I try not to reflect and still 
to absorb as much as possible. 

My diaries and my experiences are once again 'paper soldiers' 51 - I store up 
and do not ask many questions. 


3rd September ; Sunday evening. Dresden 
[•••] 

Kulturbund in Halle writes, I am now finally a candidate for the Volkskammer, 
confirmation from Berlin has come in. I am already telling myself: the Volks- 
kammer is empty decoration. 

The puzzle of the absolute contradiction. Given the greatest prominence in 
the Tdgliche Rundschau (and Neues Deutschland etc.) yesterday 2 Sept.: in accord- 
ance with the decision of the Politburo the Central Committee of the SED 
expels Central Committee member Paul Merker from the Party (the man who 
attacked my Zion chapter) as well as half a dozen others [yet others are removed 
from all posts . . .] 52 because they sided with the class enemy , because in exile 
they irresponsibly allowed themselves to be taken in by the agents of American 
imperialism, because a) those expelled still directly rendered assistance to the 
Americans until 1949, b) those removed from their posts